New Zealand and India are set to tussle for a spot in the 2019 Cricket World Cup final.
When the pair brushed shoulders in the warm-up game prior to the commencement of the prestigious tournament, the Kiwis emerged comfortable winners in a low-scoring affair. The group-stage game featuring the two teams was abandoned due to rain and Tuesday will mark the pair’s first meeting ever since.
The big battle on Tuesday will feature sub-sets of smaller battles that could determine the outcome of the big tie. We take you through the key-clashes.
Trent Boult v Rohit Sharma
After scalping a 4-for in the warm-up game, Boult will consider himself to be the trump card against an upbeat India in Manchester. Rohit Sharma is at the peak of his abilities, but he will be wary of what the pacer could do with his in-swingers.
In the warm-up game last month, the 32-year-old was caught on the plumb by a spectacular delivery by Boult. But both players have experienced opposing fortunes ever since.
The Indian opener has broken the reord for most centuries in a World Cup, smashing five tons en route to a tournament-leading tally of 647 runs.
On the other hand, Boult has not had the best of tournaments. The pacer’s only moment of the World Cup arrived when he claimed a hat-trick against Australia in the death, but the Kiwis went on to lose the match.
Boult has since been outshone by team-mate Lockie Ferguson.
However, both players know that form, history and numbers are immaterial when they take the pitch in the semis. It could be the case of who blinks first, with Boult holding the edge despite enduring inferior form.
Jasprit Bumrah v Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson has been leading by example and has registered the best batting average (96.2) in the group stage and will be New Zealand’s best hope at stability in the middle-order on Tuesday.
Jasprit Bumrah has been India’s best player in the bowling department and will be looking to nullify whatever the Kiwis skipper attempts to achieve.
This battle could consist of two parts, depending on how things progress. The New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro have had a disappointing tournament and could be dismissed early on in the innings by India’s fierce bowling attack. Bumrah will then ask Williamson all sort of questions as the latter prepares to steady the ship.
The second part of the battle will arrive in the death, should Williamson and New Zealand survive any initial scare from the Men in Blue. Bumrah has established himself as one of the best death bowlers in the world and will be tasked to restrict the Kiwis.
He will then be put to test against the in-form Williamson who will be looking to take his team to a massive total.
Ultimately, it will come down to which player responds to pressure better and the Kiwis skipper has demonstrated his prowess in this arena quite spectacularly this World Cup.
Mitchell Santner v India’s middle-order
Kiwis spinner Mitchell Santner could be the unlikely hero against a shaky Indian middle-order.
Virat Kohli’s men have appeared fragile beyond the third batsman and are yet to find the winning combination.
Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant have all been tested, but none of the players have been able to make a strong case for themselves. MS Dhoni has anchored the ship at times, but at a concerning strike-rate.
Santner could play a key role in keeping a check on the Indian middle-order and handing the control to the Kiwis in case the former maintain the good momentum which is usually presented to them by the swashbuckling opening pair.
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