New Zealand v India: Cricket
New Zealand v India: Cricket

How can the Kiwis upset the odds? Get Sharma and pray

Stick with the same dreary formula that saw them limp into the final four and New Zealand look outgunned by the might of India. But hope remains. Here's how the first World Cup semi-final will be won and lost.

The Black Caps have a better record of advancing out of the group stages than any other team.

But that's before they gracefully bow out in the finals - with dignity, heaps of friends … and no trophy.

That's what happened in 2015 when they collapsed in the big one against Australia at the MCG. And that is New Zealand cricket.

Their challenge now is to redefine themselves.

They look 1000-1 to even challenge India at Old Trafford on Tuesday, but the Kiwis must believe they can pull off the upset of the century.

Outstanding New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has scored 30 per cent of his side's runs this tournament and it goes without saying that another batsman must lift for the Black Caps.

To win the psychological battle, New Zealand should begin my focusing on, 'how do you get out Rohit Sharma?'

The Indian opener has blasted an unprecedented five centuries this World Cup, including three consecutive hundreds, and is on the verge of writing himself into folklore.

But what if Sharma and Kiwi opener Martin Guptill turn into each other? Guptill makes a desperately needed century and Sharma makes 7 and the tables instantly turn.

It might take something like that, but there are plenty of ways for New Zealand to win this semi-final and it starts with testing whether India are capable of absorbing the shock if the wonder-man Sharma fails to impact the scoreboard.

 

 

India's lower order haven't batted much through this competition. With Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, the Black Caps strike bowling is their strength, and they're capable of routing an opposition on their day.

New Zealand is so far written off in this game - and deservedly so after three demoralising losses to finish the group stage - that they might just go for broke and surprise everyone.

Could they help themselves by revamping their batting line-up and either opening with their best player Williamson, or elevating a hitter like Colin de Grandhomme or Jimmy Neesham to the top?

 

Indian quick Jasprit Bumrah is a serious threat at the start and end of an innings.
Indian quick Jasprit Bumrah is a serious threat at the start and end of an innings.

 

To stick with the same dreary formula that has seem them limp into the final four, New Zealand would appear sitting ducks.

The problem for New Zealand is that when you play India the fasteners are on from the start.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are averaging less than four runs an over in the first 10 overs.

That's well ahead of any bowling combination in the entire tournament.

Facing the fast bowling power base is stifling for teams and the stifling process starts right from the first ball.

 

 

India try and put the sleeper hold on and it can be all over before it begins.

Although England's Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy showed that it's possible to blow India out of the water, with their scintillating partnership at Edgbaston in the group stages - the only loss for Virat Kohli's side this World Cup.

The man they call "two toes" is New Zealand's great white hope.

Martin Guptill lost three toes on his left foot in a forklift accident when he was just 13, but it hasn't impacted on his stunning white ball career - where he has blasted 16 ODI hundreds at an average of 42.6.

But this tournament, Guptill has been average to say the least, with a first-up 50 against Sri Lanka the only shot he's fired.

New Zealand not only need a batsman to go with Williamson, but one who can put a bit of pressure back on India by getting out of the blocks.

If it's not Guptill, then the Black Caps are cooked for another World Cup.

New Zealand bowled Australia out for 240 at Lord's in the group stages, before bombing with the bat, to set off their downward spiral.

But if they can restrict India to a similar score, they are a team with enough ticker to push this semi-final to the death.

India's Rohit Sharma needs just 27 more runs to eclipse Sachin Tendulkar's mark for most runs ever at a World Cup. He goes quickly without looking like it.

Get Sharma, and New Zealand are a chance to draw on the belief that their former captain McCullum has had in them from the start.

 

MATCH DETAILS

First World Cup semi-final

Old Trafford, Manchester, 7.30pm (AEST)

TV: Fox Cricket, Kayo and Channel 9

 

LISTEN UP: Ben Horne and Steve Wilson join podcast host Andrew Menczel to preview the World Cup semi-finals.

 

 

 

Stream above now or search 'Cricket Unfiltered' on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from, and subscribe today to never miss an episode.

 

GROUP STAGES

India (1st) 15pts

Pl 9 W7 L1 NR1

New Zealand (4th) 11pts

P9 W5 L3 NR1

 

The scheduled meeting between the sides did not see a ball bowled after the match at Trent Bridge fell victim to the rain that interrupted the early stages of the competition. With the points shared New Zealand took something from a match their subsequent form suggests they might not have, so effectively earning them a place in the final four at Pakistan's expense.

 

 

 

KEY MATCH-UPS

 

Virat Kohli v Kane Williamson

There will be a sense of deja vu for India's Virat Kohli and New Zealand's Kane Williamson, who were captains of their sides when India and New Zealand met in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup semi-finals.

Kohli's India won the game and went on to clinch the title at Kuala Lumpur and Williamson would dearly love to avenge that loss when they meet again for much higher stakes.

 

India's captain Virat Kohli leads his side superbly by both word and deed.
India's captain Virat Kohli leads his side superbly by both word and deed.

 

Kohli has led India into the last four with five half-centuries and is two wins away from what could be his first World Cup triumph as captain of the senior side.

Williamson has also been inspirational for New Zealand, with two masterclass centuries and a fifty as his team return to the semi-finals four years after losing the title match against Australia.

His elegant batting and shrewd brain make for a deadly combination for the Kiwis, who are bidding to cause an upset against India at Old Trafford.

 

Rohit Sharma v Martin Guptill

Rohit Sharma is in the form of his life after hitting a record five centuries in a single edition of the World Cup to lead the tournament's batting charts with 647 runs.

Sharma comes in to the semi-finals fuelled by three successive centuries - 102, 104, 103 - and two opening stands with KL Rahul of over 180.

But can he continue his blazing run on the big stage?

 

Martin Guptill needs to fire if New Zealand are to have any chance of making the final.
Martin Guptill needs to fire if New Zealand are to have any chance of making the final.

 

Martin Guptill's form has been in sharp contrast with that of Sharma as the Kiwi opener managed just 166 runs from his eight outings.

The Black Caps will be hoping for a change of fortune for Guptill, who was in smashing form in the last World Cup when he hit the tournament's best ever individual score of 237 not out against West Indies.

 

Jasprit Bumrah v Trent Boult

Yorker king Jasprit Bumrah has led the Indian pace attack with speed and accuracy and remains key to the team's chances against New Zealand.

Bumrah has claimed 17 wickets in eight matches and has stifled the flow of runs for opposition batsmen with his ability to consistently bowl yorkers in the death overs.

He is ably supported by fellow fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

 

Only Mitchell Starc rivals Jasprit Bumrah for the reliability of his yorkers at the death.
Only Mitchell Starc rivals Jasprit Bumrah for the reliability of his yorkers at the death.

 

But New Zealand can also boast significant firepower in their pace attack with left-arm quick Trent Boult leading the way.

With his ability to move the ball both ways, Boult is a threat to India's famed batting line-up and claimed 15 wickets from eight group-stage games.

His 4-30 against West Indies on June 22 at Old Trafford was one of the best spells of fast bowling in this edition of the World Cup, while he also claimed a hat-trick against Australia.

 

 

 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"People aren't expecting us to win and from my point of view I think that's a good place to be in," says New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"But when you get to this stage of the tournament, sometimes pressure can do funny things on people as well. If we can apply enough pressure, then you never know what might happen."

"India are a quality team. There's no doubt they've got match-winners right throughout their line-up.

"Hopefully you'll see what Kiwis are made of out there as well, that 'no die' attitude and I guess stand up when we need to."

 

 

"Everybody's had a good run here. It's been a good campaign for us," Jasprit Bumrah said after becoming the second fastest Indian bowler to claim 100 ODI wickets.

"Everybody has chipped in with wickets and with the bat. There's a healthy competition.

"It's a good headache to have when everyone's performing and everyone's in good nick and that's something you love to have going into a crucial game like next week's semi-final."

 

"As a team we definitely want to be the scrappers and guys that scrap for wins and not always do we win pretty," said New Zealand pace bowler Lockie Ferguson.