It is going to be a mouth-watering contest as two unbeaten teams in this World Cup, India and New Zealand, lock horns on coming Sunday. It promises to be a crackerjack of a match. Let’s hope that the weather is great and there is no rain interruption which plays a spoilsport.
One thing is for sure, the setting will be majestic. The backdrop will be surreal in Dharamsala as always. The view of the mountains will be a treat for the fans and the cricketers alike. It is one of the most beautiful cricket venues in the world. While the eyes will like the view, on the field, there should be a high-octane contest between two of the best sides so far in this tournament.
What can New Zealand do to beat India?
When I look at New Zealand, I see a team that is playing as a tight unit. No Kane Williamson and his replacement Will Young has done well whenever he has got the opportunity. He got a fifty in the last match and looked at ease throughout the innings. Tom Latham filled in well as captain with Williamson not there.
New Zealand’s top order also looks very healthy with Devon Conway among runs. Rachin Ravindra is among the leading run-scorers in the tournament, and it is good to see such a young talent come good at the biggest of the stages. All the New Zealand batters have looked in touch. The question for them is that can the Black Caps collectively put up a big score on the board vs India if the Men in Blue win the toss and want to bowl first. Not to forget, India have chased in all four matches of the tournament and have done with some authority.
I also feel that, from New Zealand’s perspective, it is not a bad thing to bat first. Put a big score on the board and try push India on the back foot with the new ball. However, that score better be over 350 or maybe 400 looking at the form and quality of Indian batting in World Cup.
Indian top-order is firing. Virat Kohli comes to the match on back of a fresh hundred vs Bangladesh. KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, all have been in good touch. Shreyas Iyer has also got enough time in the middle. They are all getting runs. I feel even if New Zealand get 400, it will be 50-50 in the chase as this Indian batting is just too good in current form.
There’s one way New Zealand can stop the Bleed Blue juggernaut, which is by putting the batters under the pressure. What New Zealand should do is take inspiration from the 2019 World Cup match when they knocked over the Indian top order in a stiff chase.
I know that the conditions in Dharamsala will be different than Manchester but if the likes of Trent Boult and Matt Henry pick early wickets, then suddenly the onus will fall upon the middle order. There is no MS Dhoni these days. KL Rahul has done a good job at No 5. But I am hearing Pandya may not play the NZ game. That means either Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan will come in his place to replace him as a batter. Both have not played in the past few matches and if they are suddenly in a position where India are 30 for 4 inside 10 overs, there will be huge pressure. It will be fascinating to see how then India’s middle order responds to that challenge.
Both the bowling sides are in good form. Some of the bowlers may have gone for runs but they have also picked wickets. The way ODI game has changed over the years, a bowler going for runs every now and then is not a huge concern for teams as massive totals get chased these days.
India’s Jasprit Bumrah is in top form and keeps coming back whenever a need for wickets arises and often, he delivers as well. Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja have been excellent in the middle overs. On the New Zealand side, Mitchell Santner has done equally well. He picked up three wickets in the last match without giving much and Black Caps will be hoping for a similar show in Dharamsala vs the hosts. India’s top order should watch out for the left arm pace of Trent Boult, who has caused a lot of trouble, especially to Rohit. That will be a mini battle to watch out for.
I see India as favourites. They are playing at home and are in red hot form. They look a super fit side, except for Hardik Pandya who hurt his ankle in the Bangladesh match. Needless to say that he will be missed if he does not make it.
Both teams will look to keep up the good work as this is a long tournament and no team can afford a slip-up right now.