Dharamsala, Oct 22 , All is set for a great match between India and New Zealand, the only two unbeaten teams in this ICC Men’s World Cup.
India are quite ferocious in their home conditions, but in the World Cup New Zealand has a strong record against the hosts, having not lost a match at an ICC event for 20 years.
In the last World Cup, India played New Zealand in the iconic semifinal in Manchester which went into the reserve day due to rain.
New Zealand were under severe criticism the previous day for their slow batting, but their batsmen had read the pitch well and helped post a respectable total of 239/8.
The bowlers took over in helpful conditions next morning. Matt Henry and Trent Boult blew away India’s top half to leave them at 5/3 and then 24/4.
At that point, a huge win seemed likely, but India fought back. First through Rishabh Pant-Hardik Pandya and then through a brilliant Ravindra Jadeja-MS Dhoni partnership.
Jadeja (77) in particular played arguably his best ODI knock to get India really deep, with the experienced Dhoni at the other end. Things got really close but Jadeja’s dismissal got NZ in front and then Martin Guptill produced a moment for the ages, by running out Dhoni (50) in what could be the latter’s final ODI.
Hopefully, India would like to correct the mistakes tomorrow at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, and to be on the top of the table at the halfway stage would be great.
Jasprit Bumrah has led the pack magnificently, Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja are on song and India’s top three – Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli have been glorious in this tournament.
One cannot expect all these batsmen to fire all the time, but India has found the firepower of Sheryas Iyer and KL Rahul. New Zealand has a job cut out to pick up early wickets to put India’s middle order under pressure.
There is another job at hand for the visitors, and that is handling fans’ pressure at the jam-packed stadium, which plays its natural part during the match.
But, having played in full-houses in IPL, New Zealanders would be able to thrive in these conditions and get tested against the best.
New Zealand have been impressive, and their game sprung a surprise not in beating England, but the way in which they crushed their rivals.
Yes, they have been jolted for a brief period in a match against Afghanistan, but other than that the Kiwis have been at their royal best.
A lot of debate has meandered around Kane Williamson and Tim Southee’s absence due to injuries, but Will Young and Rachin Ravindra have plugged in the gap quite brilliantly.
Ahead of this tournament, no one would have picked Rachin into the Playing XI, but through his performances in the warmup matches, he made his selectors to ponder about, and yet nobody would ever imagine he would be pushed up the order.
But Rachin has proved his mettle, and he looks to be a key part of the New Zealand team not only in this tournament, but also in years to come.
Tom Latham has proved his mettle too. He has shown exceptional leadership qualities. Kane has obviously been a very important player for New Zealand, but the team has been playing brilliant cricket in his absence through the year, which is a very good augury.
Getting off to a good start in the tournament should work in New Zealand’s favour to qualify as they face tough sides in coming days, beginning with India on Sunday.
India Squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami
New Zealand Squad: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham(w/c), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, James Neesham