India and New Zealand will clash in the first semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Wednesday, November 15 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The game starts at 2:00 PM IST. The high-flying Indian cricket team concluded the league stage with a commanding 160-run triumph over the Netherlands, maintaining their unbeaten record in the ODI World Cup with nine out of nine matches. However, their next challenge comes in the form of New Zealand, a team that has proven to be a formidable opponent for the Men in Blue over the years.
The upcoming semi-final poses a significant test for the Indians, who have faced defeats at the hands of the Black Caps in major competitions over the past few years.
While New Zealand’s initial four consecutive victories served as an early indication of their strength in the World Cup, a series of four losses after that dampened their momentum. However, a victory against Sri Lanka in their final league match secured their spot in the World Cup semi-finals. Now, the Kiwis will be determined to deliver their optimal performance to make their third consecutive appearance in the ODI World Cup final.
As we approach the first semi-final, let’s explore three factors that provide New Zealand an added advantage in the upcoming clash against India.
History favours NZ
As India captain Rohit Sharma prepares for the upcoming clash against New Zealand, there will be a lingering concern in the back of his mind regarding his team’s past performances against the Kiwis. For any ardent Indian fan, the mere mention of New Zealand tends to evoke apprehension. The Kiwis have consistently proven to be India’s bogey opponent. The memory of India’s defeat against New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, resulting in their elimination following an 18-run loss, still rankles. As Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid gear up for the match, the weight of this past history is likely to play on their minds.
India’s recent record in the knockouts
India has once again secured a spot in the semi-finals of an ICC event, marking their fourth consecutive appearance in the ODI World Cups. However, the last two World Cups saw India fall short in the semi-finals. The pressure associated with knockout matches has proven to be a tough nut to crack for the Indian team. Additionally, India faced an exit in the semi-final stage of the 2022 T20 World Cup. The nerves that come with playing in a knockout encounter might once again impact the performance of the Indian team against the Kiwis. The team also carries the added pressure of emulating India’s 2011 World Cup triumph on home soil.
Right could be wrong for India
India has consistently fielded an unchanged side throughout most of the league matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The Indian playing XI comprises six right-handed batters, namely Rohit Sharma, Shubhman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav. The Indian batsmen have displayed vulnerability against high-quality left-arm bowlers, with a well-known struggle against left-arm Pakistan pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
In the upcoming semi-final, New Zealand will unleash southpaw Trent Boult against the Indian lineup. Captain Rohit Sharma, in particular, has faced challenges against Boult, succumbing four times in 13 ODIs to the left-arm pacer. Adding to the left-arm threat, the Kiwis also have left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who has secured 16 wickets in nine matches. Interestingly, Santner has claimed 15 right-handed batters in the ongoing tournament. With six right-handers in the Indian lineup, this composition might pose a challenge for India in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, New Zealand possess both right-handed and left-handed batters in their ranks and could trouble India if they manage swift strike rotations.
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