Graeme Swann: New Zealand must discover killer instinct to have any chance v India

Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson's troops need to stop 'pussyfooting around' at the crease, says Graeme Swann

The first of the World Cup semi-finals sees India taking on a faltering New Zealand and Graeme Swann says the Kiwis need to show more self belief if they want to progress to the final...

"India are not unbeatable. That’s what New Zealand have to tell themselves if they’re to cause an upset."

Pussyfooting around

New Zealand began the World Cup strongly but their performances have dropped off dramatically since then. For their World Cup semi-final against India at Old Trafford on Tuesday, New Zealand need to convince themselves that they are good enough to win.

Kane Williamson and co. are the best of rest in ODI cricket but they are playing as though they don't believe they can trouble the likes of India, Australia or England. New Zealand are pussyfooting around at the crease and that transmits weakness through the team.

They lack a killer instinct and they need to get it back because, in spite of their recent results, they have some really good players.

Kiwis should attack India's spinners

There are no obvious weaknesses in this India team but, in their one defeat at this World Cup, the way to beat them was plain to see. New Zealand must try to dominate their spin bowlers, as England did at Edgbaston a couple of weeks ago.

England's batsman didn't go after the Indian pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, but they absolutely pulverised India's spinners. Williamson and his players will be studying footage of that match ahead of the semi-final.

Containing India's batsmen is another matter. Rohit Sharma is in the form of his life and Virat Kohli is just a wonderful cricketer. But if you make enough runs against India then, England showed, scoreboard pressure can be brought to bear on their middle order.

India also have a fairly long tail and quite a few of their players haven't had to come to town at the crease yet. The one pitfall of having top order players like Sharma in stupendous form is that the other lads don't get much practice in the middle.

Under-achievers must step up

India are not unbeatable. That's what New Zealand have to tell themselves if they're to cause an upset. New Zealand have players who haven't performed at this World Cup and the one upside of that is there's always the chance they could yet produce the goods.

Martin Guptill is a fine player who's done nothing all tournament, as I found out to my cost when I backed him to get the runs against England last week. But if Guptill does come to the party this time, and Ross Taylor also produces the kind of batting performance of which he is capable, then New Zealand have a chance.

I'm sticking with Guptill for top New Zealand batsman. He's got to come good at some point. As for top New Zealand bowler, James Neesham has bowled well for New Zealand throughout this World Cup, but Trent Boult is finding form at a good time and he's my selection.

India should win but New Zealand odds are generous

Rohit Sharma India World Cup 2019.jpg

I cannot look past the form of Sharma when picking my bet for top Indian batsman. He's hitting century after century and, this Old Trafford wicket should be good for batting.

With the ball, Bumrah is in equally devastating form for India. How could I not back him for top wicket-taker?

I'm backing the best players here, and some people may argue that's too easy, but a World Cup semi-final is an occasion when your best players come to the fore. Sharma and Bumrah are the kind of players who rise to pressure situations and I will be surprised if that doesn't happen on Tuesday.

I expect India to reach the final but, if New Zealand win the toss, and post around 320, it's anyone's game. The odds of 5/2 available on New Zealand are pretty generous for a World Cup semi-final, although I wouldn't stake my mortgage on it.

Crick-o-nomics: What do the stats say?

Ed Hawkins compares the odds to his two-year study of top batsmen and bowlers to ascertain where the value lies...

Rohit the run-machine

For the first time in the tournament, Rohit Sharma has made jolly status in the top Indian runscorer market. But he still shares it with Virat Kohli despite five centuries. Reputation is everything, eh? Rohit is 5/2 but on the data – how often he actually wins in the last two years – he should be 13/8. Kohli is 5/2 with Sportsbook and the same price on the data. There are no other Indian batsmen who appeal in terms of wrong prices. MS Dhoni, for example, has a six per cent win rate so the 14s is right.

Take on Kane

Kane Williamson has had a terrific competition and the perceived wisdom is that New Zealand can’t win without him getting a score. But for top bat honours he doesn’t make the grade. Sportsbook’s 9/4 does not match a 24% win rate. Ross Taylor has been a major disappointment and we have a conundrum. The 9/2 is value (30.7% win rate) but his form has been poor. On pure numbers, however, we would have to get involved.

Bum note

Jasprit Bumrah is India’s top wicket-taker with 17. Unsurprisingly he is 2/1 favourite for most Kiwi wickets. It’s not a bet. He is closer to 9/2. Mohammad Shami is three wickets behind with a superior strike rate and hit rate. He is bang on 3/1 on the data so 10/3 fits the bill. The curious one is Kuldeep Yadav. He dominated this market before the World Cup but has lost confidence. That may mean an edge of 1.3% is not enough.

Lock it in

There is one percentage point in our favour for a bet on Lockie Ferguson for top New Zealand bowler. He is 3/1 with Sportsbook. It’s not the chunkiest of edges. Trent Boult has a decent record in this market but is more like an 7/2 chance than a 9/4 shot.

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