Chennai: Two-time world champions and six-time semifinalists Team India are ready for the Kiwi challenge tomorrow for the first semifinals at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Considered favourites, the pressure is on Kohli & boys as New Zealand relishes ‘underdogs’ tag. India goes into the match with a super show in the league stage. They topped the league stages with seven victories, one washout and a loss, while New Zealand managed five victories, one washout and three losses.
Speaking about the match, Kedar, a cricket coach in T Nagar, says, “Remember India lost to Kiwis in the warm-up match, They could not handle the seaming deliveries of Trent Boult. Lockie Fergusson is in prime form with the ball. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been consistent all through this World Cup and Guptill is due for a big score. Though Bumrah has been the key as far as bowling is concerned, Shami and Bhuvi leaked a few runs, especially in the death overs. Kuldeep is still to gain confidence after a mediocre IPL, barring one beautiful delivery to Babar in the match against Pakistan.”
“I hope Team India will retain Raveendra Jadeja. He is a experienced cricketer. He knows to handle pressure in crunch situations. Chahal and Jadeja can be lethal. Bhuvi should partner with Bumrah.”
Echoing his ideas, Kannan, an avid cricket-lover, says, “Watch out for Virat Kohli. He has had wonderful starts. He scored five half-centuries in the tournament so far. It is time for him convert one into a big century. Hope he gets that tomorrow.”
He says. “Jadeja should play the game. He is a three-dimensional cricketer: He can bowl, bat and field. He won a few games batting down the order for CSK. He will be an asset in the semifinals.”
A section of fans believes that it would be a run feast tomorrow. “The match would be played at Old Trafford where South Africa beat Australia by 10 runs. Both the teams scored over 300. Since it is a day game, the pitch will get slow as the day progresses. Whichever team wins the toss, will bat first and try put up a big score on the board. The side that panics will lose. Being a crunch game, India should maintain their cool composure,” say a few.
Record-breaking Rohit Sharma has taken his game to another level with five World Cup centuries in eight innings, while Rahul, playing in place of injured Dhawan, scored a century in the last match. He looks compact.
All hopes rest on Pandya to bat brisk in the last few overs, says Jaganathan, a former club cricketer.
ROAD TO SEMIFINALS…
Virat Kohli’s side won their opening two games before their encounter with New Zealand was abandoned. An emphatic and joyful victory over rivals Pakistan followed, before the two-time winners secured maximum points from their games against Afghanistan and West Indies, despite being pushed all the way by the former. Defeat to England mattered little to India, who recovered to beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and finish top of the group stage.
Rohit Sharma (647 runs, five centuries, HS 122*)
Jasprit Bumrah (17 wickets @ 19.51, Best 4-55)
Kane Williamson (481 runs, two centuries, HS 148)
Lockie Ferguson (17 wickets @ 18.58, Best 4-37)