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Men’s ODI WC: Form favours India, history goes with New Zealand for semifinal clash (Preview)

With the interest in 50-over cricket waning all over the globe, the International Cricket Council promoted the Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 with a unique campaign and tagline — ‘It Takes One Day’.

Indeed it is likely to take only one day to decide their fortunes when India and New Zealand face off in the semifinals of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday. Though the ICC has scheduled a reserve day for the semifinal in case of rain, going by current weather conditions, it is likely that the match will be a one-day affair.

It is likely to be a humdinger of a clash in which the current form favours India while the money will be on New Zealand if the past record is taken into account. India are in great form having qualified for the semifinals with an all-win record while New Zealand have a tremendous record in ICC ODI events, having reached the fifth successive semifinal — nine times in 13 editions.

They have a positive record against India in the ODI World Cups too with five wins to four (1 no result) in the 50-overs World Cup. Overall in white-ball events organised by the ICC, New Zealand have defeated India in eight matches while losing four — with one no result. India managed to beat New Zealand in a World Cup match for the first time since 2003 — at Dharmala in this edition and are now looking forward to beating in the knockout stage too.

India has dominated the preliminary stage and qualified for the knockouts with an all-win record for the first time in their World Cup history. Rohit Sharma’s side have won all their matches comprehensively — on nine different surfaces — and have been comfortable while batting first and also chasing a target.

Their top-order batters — Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer and K.L Rahul have done well with all four of them scoring centuries — Kohli hammering two centuries to emerge the tournament top-scorer with 594 runs. At the same time, Rohit has 503 runs with a ton and two 80-plus scores too.

The bowlers have been a revelation with Jasprit Bumrah leading the pack with 17 wickets while Mohammad Shami, despite coming in only after Hardik Pandya got injured during India’s fourth match against Bangladesh at Pune, has claimed 16 wickets, the same as Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav has bagged 14 wickets while Mohd Siraj has taken 12 wickets so far. All five of them have ensured that the Indians did not face many anxious moments in their preliminary league matches. Two of their best wins came against Australia and South Africa, who finished second and third respectively in the points table.

In contrast, New Zealand had a rollercoaster ride in the World Cup 2023 as they won their first four matches, but lost the next four starting with a four-wicket defeat to India at Dharamsala and including a defeat via DLS Method against Pakistan in a rain-interrupted match in which they had posted 401 while batting first.

They were the last team to qualify for the semifinals by beating Sri Lanka in a dominant display while England ended Pakistan’s hopes with a big win.

Opener Rachin Ravindra has been their biggest success story in a World Cup campaign marred by injuries to key players. Skipper Kane Williamson, who returned from a serious injury suffered in the IPL that kept him out for nearly four months, broke his thumb while seasoned bowler Tim Southee too was laid low by an injury. Last week, they lost Matt Henry to an injury, which has left their side without a proper fifth bowler. Daryl Mitchell (419) and Devon Conway (359) too have done well with the bat.

They have to depend on Glenn Phillips and Rachin Ravindra to share 10 overs between them. Mitch Santner has been their most successful bowler with 16 wickets while Trent Boult has claimed 13 wickets so far. However, the absence of Matt Henry, who had claimed 11 wickets before the injury ruled him out of the event, will be severely felt though New Zealand has the two-metre-tall Kyle Jamieson to fall back on for the knockout clash.

The two teams will clash on a pitch that is expected to offer pace and bounce early and help the spinners when it slows down a bit. It was at this same stadium that India had dismissed Sri Lanka for 55 runs after posting a massive 357/8.

Overall, the Wankhede has been a happy hunting ground for India as in 21 matches played at this venue, the Men in Blue have won 12 and lost nine.

Incidentally, Wankhede is also the venue for India’s biggest day in ODI World Cup history — the 2011 final when they defeated Sri Lanka to lift the title.

India’s countless fans across the globe will be hoping that Rohit Sharma’s side adds one more chapter to that glorious history of Wankhede by winning the semifinal against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.

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