Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
When: Wednesday, November 15
New Zealand has the unenviable task of taking down the Indian machine in the first of the 2023 Cricket World Cup Semi-final matches on Wednesday in Mumbai. India has played nine and won nine in this tournament so far, using home soil to their advantage and rarely being tested as they progressed through the pool table at the top of the log with matches to spare.
New Zealand left it late to qualify from their group, but they eventually finished clear in fourth place with 10 points from five wins and five defeats in their nine game. While Pakistan or Afghanistan could technically have taken this spot in each of their final matches, the truth is that New Zealand had it basically sealed up because of their outstanding net run rate (NRR). That positive NRR should give them hope heading into his one, even if India is the firm (1/3) favorite to make it to the final.
The scary part of this Indian team is how well-balanced it is. They can beat you with aggressive or patient batting, they can beat you with a bowling attack that has any number of ways to get you out, and they can beat you with a fielding masterclass. Add in the way that they are being cheered on to greater exploits by their home crowd, and you have a team that will be exceptionally difficult for New Zealand – or anyone – to beat in this tournament.
India has been impressive, but the way that New Zealand bounced back after a shocking run of four consecutive defeats was clutch differently. It wasn’t just they beat Sri Lanka in their final pool game. The efficient way the Black Caps conducted their business caught the eye. They will have to play with that same level of focus and steel to have a chance against the host nation. New Zealand is excellent in high-pressure games. Their ability to turn Glenn Phillips into an all-rounder during this World Cup shows they aren’t afraid to take risks. Risks will be necessary on Wednesday.
The toss means plenty at the Wankhede Stadium. It is a balanced pitch and one that shouldn’t cut up disastrously through the match. The last ten first innings have averaged out at 318, while the second team to bat typically wins at a 60% rate. If India bats second, then New Zealand is in all kinds of trouble before a ball is even bowled.
India has three players with odds of 28/10 to be their best batsman on the day. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Shubman Gill are all 28/10 to win. Kohli is the one to watch here. He has five 50s and a pair of 100s already this World Cup. He has also tied with Sachin Tendulkar for the most 100s in )DIs, a record he would love to break at the sharp end of this tournament.
New Zelaand’s main man has been Rachin Ravindra. His strike rate of 108.45 is way better than Kohli’s, and he has three 100s to his name. At 7/2, he is worth a punt to continue his outstanding form/