London: The group stage of World Cup ended Saturday. 45 matches involving ten teams saw four top teams book berth for semifinals – that would be played in Manchester on 9 July and Birmingham on 11 July. The four teams to reach the last four are – India, Australia, England and New Zealand.
India’s fluent seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Headingley helped them jump to the top spot of the points table ahead of Australia, as they faced a 10-run defeat against South Africa in their last group match.
In the first semifinals, India plays New Zealand at Old Trafford on Tuesday (9 July). It is expected that the match will be full of excitement as both sides are full of match-winners and they have not played each other at this World Cup. It is to be noted that India-New Zealand game at Trent Bridge on June 13 was abandoned without a ball bowled due to bad weather.
India managed to end the group stage with just one defeat – to England – to earn 15 points from their nine matches. India have had a dream run in the World Cup despite problems in the middle-order. They lost Shikhar Dhawan after he suffered a fractured thumb against Australia but KL Rahul moved up the order to partner Rohit Sharma and the two have been formidable. Virat Kohli did not score any hundreds in the group stages but he led from the front. Rohit Sharma scored a record-shattering 5 hundreds and finished the league matches with 647 runs.
On the other hand, New Zealand started their World Cup campaign on a high but they lost their steam in the later stage as faced defeat in three games – to Pakistan, Australia and England – to end on 11 points from their nine games. Rohit Sharma is India’s dangerman with the bat as he has scored 647 runs so far in the tournament and for Black Caps their captain Kane Williamson is the most successful batsman with 481 runs in his kitty. The second semifinals would be played between Australia and England at Edgbaston on Thursday (11 July).
England, who finished third in the points table, were stunned by Sri Lanka. England were one of the pre-tournament favourites but back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia made them a nervous lot. However, resounding victories over India and New Zealand meant they made it to the semi-finals for the first time in 27 years.