Australia’s defeat at the hands of South Africa meant that India is scheduled to cross swords with New Zealand at the Old Trafford in Manchester in the first semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. As far as the Men in Blue are concerned, they stuttered against England but brushed aside Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Subsequently, Virat Kohli & Co. also finished on top of the table with 15 points from nine games.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, were unbeaten in their first six games. Unfortunately, the team lost their last three league encounters and somehow made their way through with 11 points. Kane Williamson’s men lost their last two matches versus the Aussies and host England by 86 and 119 runs respectively. However, they can take heart from that fact they beat India in the warm-up fixture back in May.
The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t pleasant by any means as rain could play spoilsport. From 9 AM in the morning to 7 PM, the heavens could open up. There is a chance of a curtailed match, if not an abandoned one. 90 per cent cloud cover will be there and the atmosphere will be gloomy. The temperature will be around 18 degrees Celsius with the humidity in the 70s.
The pitch in Manchester has been batting-friendly and even the Australia-South Africa match produced over 600 runs. But the track has favoured the team, batting first. The chasing teams have lost all the five matches in this World Cup. The strip for the next game has a tinge of brown to it, which suggests that bowlers may have something in it for them and may slow down as the game progresses.
Team India is likely to bring back Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal back into the eleven. Kuldeep Yadav has been awfully out of touch and even Bhuvneshwar Kumar has leaked runs at an alarming rate. Shami is in good form, having picked up 14 wickets from four games. Jadeja bowled well versus Lanka and may be persisted with. He also gives his team the depth in the batting lineup and teeth on the field.
Karthik has the composure to deliver under pressure and he may retain his place. In the batting department, Rohit is in the form of his life. Even Rahul showed his class in the previous game with a ton. Kohli hasn’t disappointed either, though he would be looking for a century. It’s also a massive Test for Pant. The focus will also be on MS Dhoni regarding his approach in the middle overs.
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.
The Kiwis may bring back Lockie Ferguson, who missed the previous game due to a hamstring injury. In that scenario, Tim Southee needs to go back to the bench. There’s also a chance of Colin Munro making his way into the eleven as Henry Nicholls has been out of sorts as well. Martin Guptill has scored a mere 93 runs in six matches after his unbeaten 73 against Sri Lanka more than a month ago.
A lot would depend on Kane Williamson, who has 481 runs at an average of 96.20 with a couple of tons. Ross Taylor got out after getting starts – 30 and 28 – in the last two games and he’ll be keen to put his best foot forward. Tom Latham, scoring a fifty in the previous encounter would’ve come as a sigh of relief. In the bowling department, Ferguson and Boult have to shoulder a chunk of the responsibility.
Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
Probable Top Performer
India – Rohit Sharma | New Zealand — Kane Williamson
TV – Star Sports
Match Timings – 15:00 IST; 10:30 local
The prediction is for India to win the match.
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