India v New Zealand
Tuesday July 9, 10:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and on Betfair Live Video
India have momentum on their side
India jumped to the top of the table with their seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka and Virat Kohli leads his side into the final four full of confidence. Just one defeat in the competition so far, to England, I am bizarrely still not convinced by India. If they lose their top three batsmen early they are in trouble. Yes, you could say that of any side, but there have been glimpses already that a long tail could be their undoing.
With Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli scoring 1449 runs between them (65.06% of India's runs off the bat) it means the middle order are starved of action. Early losses and it leaves the middle-order having to rebuild but conscious that Hardik Pandya is in at number seven and then it's a genuine tail. Pandya is sometimes superb, but he's a hitter and can be hit or miss. That can lead to them being too tentative in the middle overs and unwilling to take too many risks.
Jasprit Bumrah tops the India bowling with 17 wickets, with Mohammad Shami (14) and Yuzvendra Chahal (11) supporting him well. In the field India have been excellent and should welcome back Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal who were rested for the final group match as Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav came in.
Nobody seems to be giving Kiwis a chance
New Zealand have stumbled into the semi-finals after successive defeats to Pakistan, Australia and England. Net run rate saw them squeeze out a late charge from Pakistan and they are not being mentioned by many as genuine title contenders, but they remain a stern test for India. The Kiwis eased past Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in their first three matches and were seen as fortunate to come up against the three lowest ranked sides to get them off to a great start. They all still required beating and it meant there were harder (on paper) games to come.
Lockie Ferguson should return in place of Tim Southee as underperforming openers Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro fight it out to play at the top of the order. Ferguson (17 wickets) has produced a threat with pace and Trent Boult (15) is dangerous with the new ball and death-over yorkers. Both bowlers can be destructive.
Can India live up to the hype?
India and New Zealand were rained off during the group stage when New Zealand were stacking up the wins. Now after three defeats the Kiwis come into this semi-final clash as massive underdogs. Of the completed games between these sides India lead 55-45. When the sides met in New Zealand in January India took the series 4-1.
The Black Caps best chance of winning this match is to unleash Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and company and hope to make inroads with the new ball. With poor weather forecast for Manchester on Tuesday, and Wednesday's reserve day, the conditions could favour the New Zealanders.
It is all about which team can handle the occasion. People talk about the pressure of expectation on England as hosts but don't forget the 1.3billion fanatical Indians for whom a trophyless campaign is failure. That support is a positive and a burden and India at 1.374/11 don't float my boat, so New Zealand offer more meat on the bone at 3.613/5.
Rohit Sharma is the leading scorer in the tournament with 647 runs and his five hundreds have set a new tournament record. He has recorded World Cup scores of 122*, 57, 140, 1, 18, 102, 104 and 103 and average 92.42. Skipper Virat Kohli's 442 runs at 63.14 and KL Rahul's 360 runs at 51.42, including 111 in the last game against Sri Lanka, means the top three are flying. If looking for an Indian top scorer it is hard to ignore Rohit Sharma at 5/2, but MS Dhoni appeals as a great value play at 13/1, which is way too big.
Kane Williamson (481) was New Zealand's run-scorer during the group stage, with two match-winning hundreds, and is the key man for Kiwi hopes both with the bat and as their master tactician. The level-headed leader has had heaps of pressure poured on his shoulder swith the openers barely registering an opening stand. Williamson at 9/4 is the sensible play to be leading New Zealand scorer and Ross Taylor, who has scored 261 runs during the tournament, is a decent alternative at a tempting 9/2.
There are plenty of contenders to go big on an Old Trafford surface which has produced some big scores, including England's highest team total against Afghanistan. There is every chance we'll see at least one individual century and the EVS price is appealing.
With potential match-winners on both sides it's worth taking a half-stakes play on three or four contenders at decent prices. My picks for this game are Kane Williamson 10/1, Trent Boult 14/1 and Virat Kohli 6/1.
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