ODI World Cup 2023, semi-final showdown: India braced for pressure against resilient New Zealand
As the Cricket World Cup semi-final unfolds, hosts India face New Zealand in a high-stakes clash at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
India, the hosts, are gearing up for the "pressure" of the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand. Having secured victory in all nine of their group games, India enters the knockout stage with Virat Kohli as the leading batsman, amassing 594 runs, closely followed by captain Rohit Sharma with 503. Despite India's dominance, New Zealand's fast bowler, Lockie Ferguson, emphasizes that both teams will "reset" as they face each other in the semi-final in Mumbai on Wednesday. India, led by Virat Kohli and supported by a formidable fast-bowling lineup featuring Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami, has displayed exceptional prowess. Shami's return, prompted by Hardik Pandya's injury, has proven fortuitous, with the experienced seamer taking 16 wickets in five matches at an impressive average of under 10.
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav add further depth to India's bowling arsenal, capable of taking wickets without conceding significant runs. However, despite their cricketing prowess, India has been awaiting a third World Cup title since their 2011 triumph over Sri Lanka in Mumbai, with their last major trophy being the 2013 Champions Trophy.
New Zealand, having been losing finalists in the last two 50-over World Cups, won their first four games in this edition but faced defeat in the subsequent four matches. Ferguson, looking ahead to the semi-final, expressed, "We all start from zero again. So come Wednesday, it'll be a good challenge."
Reflecting on their 2019 semi-final encounter, where New Zealand secured victory by 18 runs in a rain-affected match in Manchester, Ferguson acknowledged the passing of four years and the extensive cricket played since then.
Five players from the 2019 semi-final - Rohit, Kohli, Rahul, Bumrah, and Jadeja - are expected to feature again on Wednesday. India's coach Rahul Dravid acknowledges the pressure at this critical stage but remains confident in the team's ability to respond positively.
Dravid's confidence is reinforced by India's previous performance against New Zealand in the group stage, where they secured a four-wicket win at Dharamsala. Despite Daryl Mitchell's impressive 130, Shami's 5-54 restricted New Zealand to 273. Kohli's 95 and Jadeja's composed 39 not out highlighted India's resilience under pressure.
The upcoming match at Rohit's Wankhede Stadium, where India dominated against Sri Lanka, sets the stage for a challenging encounter. Rohit Sharma, the aggressive opener, has been a key leader for India.
New Zealand, led by the world-class batsman Kane Williamson, boasts a skilled pace attack with Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and the dynamic Lockie Ferguson. Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, often underrated, poses a threat with 16 wickets at an average of under 25.
The emergence of left-handed batsman Rachin Ravindra, scoring 565 runs, including three centuries, adds a dynamic dimension to New Zealand's lineup. Reflecting on playing against India at the historic Wankhede with a full crowd, Ravindra expresses his dreams.
Ferguson, impressed by his teammate Rachin, acknowledges his exceptional attitude, dedication to cricket, and continuous development throughout the World Cup. As the semi-final approaches, the cricketing world anticipates an exciting and closely contested encounter between these two formidable teams.