India will take on New Zealand in the first semi-final of the 2023 World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 15. The Men in Blue were extraordinary in the league stage, winning nine out of nine matches and topping the points table in a thumping fashion. On the other hand, the Kiwis sneaked into the top four at the end. They began the World Cup with four wins and then lost four in a row before defeating Sri Lanka in their last league clash. They finished fourth to set up a knockout clash with the Men in Blue.
India and New Zealand met in the league stage earlier in the 2023 World Cup when the Men in Blue beat the Kiwis by four wickets to end their 20-year-old jinx in the ICC event. New Zealand batted first in the match and were restricted to 273 all out. In the chase, the hosts got home in 48 overs. The 2019 World Cup semi-final has come into focus in the wake of India and New Zealand meeting again. On that occasion, the Kiwis won by 18 runs. Can India turn the tables this time round? Here are five player battles to watch out for in the India vs New Zealand 2023 semi-final.
Rohit Sharma vs Tim Southee
Team India captain Rohit Sharma has been fantastic with his blazing starts in the 2023 World Cup. In nine matches, he has slammed 503 runs at an average of 55.89 and an excellent strike rate of 121.50. He may not have converted most of his starts into big scores, but it is the impact of his blazing starts that made such a huge difference to the team’s fortunes. In his last five innings, he has two 40s, one 60 and one 80. Rohit was out for 1 in the 2019 semi-final heartbreak. He will be keen to set the record straight at home.
Seasoned Kiwi pacer Tim Southee will have a key role to play at the start of the innings with the ball. Given his experience, he will be expected to perform a big role in the knockout match against India. Having overcome his fracture, he has played in three games and has registered figures of 2/77, 1/27 and 1/52. Southee has not had a great World Cup, but that can change if he does a Matt Henry form and dismisses Rohit cheaply.
Rachin Ravindra vs Jasprit Bumrah
What a fantastic World Cup Rachin Ravindra has had. The youngster, who might not have even featured in the playing XI but for the team’s injury issues, has ended up being New Zealand’s standout performer with the willow. In nine innings, Ravindra has hammered 565 runs at an average of 70.62 and a strike rate of 108.45. The 23-year-old has slammed three hundreds to go with two fifties. He has looked in great touch most times he has gone out to bat. There will be a different kind of pressure in the knockouts. Can he rise to the challenge?
Team India’s seasoned pacer, Jasprit Bumrah, has been a standout performer for the Men in Blue in the 2023 World Cup. There were some concerns over his fitness as he had only made a comeback into international cricket just a few weeks before the start of the ODI World Cup. But Bumrah has been absolutely sensational for India with the ball in hand. In nine matches, he has claimed 17 wickets at an average of 15.65 and a wonderful economy rate of 3.65. Can he end Ravindra’s golden run with the bat?
Virat Kohli vs Trent Boult
Virat Kohli and Trent Boult. There is some history there. Left-arm pacers have troubled Kohli in international cricket, particularly regarding ICC events. In fact, he has been dismissed by left-arm pacers in all three ODI World Cup semi-finals he has featured in – Wahab Riaz (2011), Mitchell Johnson (2015) and Trent Boult (2019). In all three knockout games, Kohli was dismissed cheaply, so he will have a point to prove for sure. Kohli is currently the leading run-getter in the 2023 World Cup, with 594 runs in nine innings at an average of 99 and a strike rate of 88.52. Can he carry his form in the knockouts this time?
Boult has had a mixed campaign so far. He has 13 scalps in nine games at an average of 32.15. Boult was, however, the Player of the Match in the win over Sri Lanka, claiming 3/37. He will take that confidence into the semi-final. As it is, he is a big-match player. Will Boult continue to hold the edge over Kohli?
Kane Williamson vs Mohammed Shami
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has been in and out of the World Cup due to fitness issues. However, he has scored 78 and 95 in two of the three matches that he has featured in. Williamson knows how to lift his game on the big stage. He did in the 2019 semi-final against India. Can he do it again?
After four brilliant games, Mohammed Shami had an underwhelming encounter against the Netherlands. He went wicketless, finishing with 0/41 from six overs. But Shami claimed 16 scalps in the early four games, including a five-for against New Zealand in Dharamsala. Can he do an encore?
Shreyas Iyer vs Mitchell Santner
Shreyas Iyer has overcome a poor start to the World Cup and has produced some fantastic batting efforts in the last few matches. Since the failure against England, he has registered scores of 82, 77 and 128 not out. Can he carry on his great form in the knockout clash?
Kiwi left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner might look like an innocuous bowler, but he often manages to produce the goods even while flying under the radar. Santner has grabbed the limelight for some fantastic fielding efforts in the World Cup, but he has also done a significant job with the ball. In nine innings, he has 16 wickets at an average of 24.88. Can Santner end Shreyas’ impressive run in the World Cup?