The 2019 Cricket World Cup has now reached the Semi Final stages – and the first game takes place today (Tuesday July 9th) as India take on New Zealand at Old Trafford, Manchester, with the winner progressing to the final at Lords on Sunday July 14th.
India come into the game as short priced and heavy favourites to see off the Kiwis – who started the competition superbly well, but stumbled more that strode into the Semi Finals – losing their last three group games and only finishing fourth ahead of Pakistan on Net Run Rate. India have only lost one game of their eight games, whilst they suffered one lost game due to the weather – which was against New Zealand – so there is no head to head in this Cricket World Cup to look back on for clues. But here we offer three elements that New Zealand MUST do if they are to shock the game and current tournament favourites.
BAT FIRST AND SCORE 300+
Coming into the tournament it was the trend to chase targets down – but going out of the group stage, that trend has been bucked, with teams batting first fairing much better than those batting second. Only ONE team has successfully chased down a target of 300 plus (Bangladesh beating West Indies) and the highest successful run chase to date in this World Cup apart from that Bangladesh hunt was 265 by India against Sri Lanka. Teams who have batted first have won 65% of the completed games so far in this World Cup, with a combination of pressure and deteriorating pitches being primary reasons as to there being a clear message that its better to have runs on the board initially than it is to hunt totals down. It will be a crucial toss to win for the Kiwis – and if they do, they must bat. And then, bat well.
KANE WILLIAMSON MUST GET SUPPORT FROM TOP ORDER
Skipper Kane Williamson has been in superb form in this tournament – but the same cannot be said for his batting counterparts. The stats for the group stages show just how important Williamson has been – and what a non factor the rest have :
- K Williamson : Runs 481 Average 96.20 Balls Faced 623 High Score 148
- J Neesham : Runs 201 Average 40.20 Balls Faced 251 High Score 97 no
- R Taylor : Runs 261 Average 37.28 Balls Faced 344 High Score 82
- C de Grandhomme : Runs 158 Average 26.33 Balls Faced 151 High Score 64
- C Munro : Runs 125 Average 25.00 Balls Faced 128 High Score 58 no
- M Guptill : Runs 166 Average 23.71 Balls Faced 189 High Score 73 no
To have one player scoring 280 runs more than the next best run getter across eight played games (one washout) shows that its Williamson or bust for New Zealand – he has also occupied far more time at the crease than anyone else. If New Zealand, whether setting or chasing a total, are going to get the runs needed to beat India, the likes of Guptill and Taylor especially must step up and provide support and runs in aiding Williamson, who cannot continue to do it all himself.
TAKE EARLY INDIAN WICKETS
There is no doubt that India are a superb batting side, but their top three hold the key to their innings. Using the same stat lines as above, lets look at the two openers and then Virat Kohli who bats at #3 for India :
- KL Rahul : Runs 360 Average 51.42 Balls Faced 459 High Score 111
- R Sharma : Runs 647 Average 92.42 Balls Faced 655 High Score 140
- V Kohli : Runs 442 Average 63.14 Balls Faced 465 High Score 82
- M S Dhoni : Runs 223 Average 44.60 Balls Faced 239 High Score 56 no
The Indian batsmen are technically superb, but are not the heavy, explosive hitters which can destroy bowling attacks. They will look to bat overs out and compile innings rather than bludgeon scores which the likes of Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, Jason Roy etc can do. Its also very worth noting that after the top three are gone, there is a good, but not great, middle order for India, which can be contained if not dismissed. The middle order stats are maybe skewed due to the fact they rarely get chance to do much scoring, such is the efficiency of the top three, but IF New Zealand can get one or two of this Holy Trinity out (relatively) early, they may well be able to suffocate the Indian run rate enough to defend a decent total. But that is a big if as no team has held these batsmen down so far.
On the whole, it looks a big blue and orange mountain to climb for the Kiwis, who will face about the best ODI side in the world and a huge, raucous crowd at Old Trafford. They have no momentum coming into the game and know the odds are stacked against them. But there is a glimmer of hope for them….India haven’t been impressive in every game and England showed they are beatable. You get the feeling New Zealand need to play their best and India have a bit of an off day to prevail…but this World Cup has shown that shocks can happen and on their day, any team can beat any opposition.
But we see INDIA progressing through to the final at Lords to welcome the winners of Thursday’s clash between England and Australia