It’s that time of the World Cup where the teams have to be precisely accurate with the execution of their plans and have to be clear as to what they wish to achieve. World Cup glory is just two games away but in order to make the dream a reality takes a lot of character. As professional Cricketers representing their respective countries one would expect them not to wilt under pressure. But it’s easier said than done, for the occasion is such that it gets the better of the players more often than not and the ones who overcome the odds and aren’t overwhelmed by it become the game changers and match winners. It is not just a test of cricketing skills but more so of character at this stage of the World Cup.
Taking nothing away from the potential threat this current New Zealand(NZ) side has to offer yet it seems to be a mammoth task for them to pull off an upset win over India who looks a much better balanced side at this stage of the tournament. It’s a bit nostalgic for both the captains as they led their sides in 2008 U-19 World Cup and it was India who won the semi-final clash back then. 11 years later both Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson again face off in the World Cup semi-finals but this time the stakes are higher than ever before. Both Kohli and Kane are amongst the best batsmen in the world right now and both would be eager to add to their repertoire in this match.
Rohit Sharma has been in the form of his life as he has scored 5 centuries so far, 3 in consecutive games leading upto the Semi-final. Trent Boult has got the better of him on several occasions with the incoming delivery. Lockie Ferguson too has been bowling with some serious pace in the tournament. If NZ can make early in-roads with the new ball and expose the Indian middle order then it would be an intriguing battle. More so if NZ is able to put a decent enough score on the board then they really have a chance as batting second will really test the Indian batting line up. NZ on the other hand have their own issues to tackle as they are too reliant on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Martin Guptill hasn’t been at his fluent best and the openers haven’t been able to make an impact so far in the tournament.
Spin too will have a role to play given the big square boundaries at Manchester and the wicket slowing down as the game progresses. Good performances from Chahal and Santner would be crucial for their respective team’s fortunes. Having begun the campaign with impressive wins NZ seems to have lost their touch with 3 consecutive losses leading upto the semi-final. But still India can’t take them lightly as they have the required tools to upstage India which however looks less likely but then that’s the beauty of this game of Cricket. One good spell, one good partnership, some brilliance in the field can swing it in either team’s favor. Though India is the firm favorites going into the match, all eyes will however will be on New Zealand and it remains to be seen whether they’ll come up trumps or will again choke on the semi-final stage.