by Rex Clementine
Unbeaten India are favourites to go through to the finals of the Cricket World Cup in a re-match of 2019 semi-final against New Zealand.
India stormed to the semi-finals becoming the first team to get there winning every game without much hassle. New Zealand, meanwhile, blew hot and cold. They won their first four games, then lost the next four and were facing relegation and needed a big win over Sri Lanka in their last league game and that they did to book a semi-final berth by edging out Pakistan.
India suffered a massive blow when Hardik Pandya was ruled out with injury, but they are such a well-rounded outfit that the absence of their all-rounder hasn’t been felt.
Bowling is India’s strong point. Initially, they looked to be relying on Shardul Thakur as the third seamer opting for him as batting cover at number eight. But sanity prevailed and Mohammad Shami was given his dues and he’s been truly inspirational.
Jasprit Bumrah and Shami hardly offer anything to be hit and in the meanwhile provide early breakthroughs. Spin is in the safe hands of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja. The only weak link in the Indian attack seems Mohammad Siraj, but he himself has taken 12 wickets in the competition so far, just five less than Bumrah.
India’s batting is rearing to go with Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer and K.L. Rahul having all made hundreds. The only frontline batter not to score a hundred is opener Shubman Gill but he missed two games due to illness.
Kohli has been in sensational form with two hundred and five half-centuries and averages 99 in the tournament.
Indian players have achieved much in their careers and the only thing that is missing is a World Cup win. Only R. Ashwin and Kohli were part of the side that won the World Cup in 2011. So for most Indians this week is a pretty special one.
As for New Zealand, they rely heavily on Trent Boult. With his swing, if he is able to run through the top order, New Zealand can fancy their chances but otherwise this will be an uphill task.
Rachin Ravindra is the third highest run getter in the World Cup behind Kohli and Quinton de Kock. The return of captain Kane Williamson from injury is a huge relief for the Kiwis.
Darly Mitchell, Devon Conway and Glenn Philips have all chipped in with useful contributions when required, but the problem is their batting is not as consistent as India’s.
Cricket is a funny game and New Zealand could still pull off an upset.