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    Written by Jamie Alter
    Indian Team CWC

    India hold the edge over New Zealand in World Cup semi-final

    November 14, 2023

    Yes, no Indian men’s cricket team has made an ICC tournament final since 2017. Yes, it has indeed been five ICC white-ball World Cup finals since the men in blue reached the summit. Yes, New Zealand have been India’s bogey team in ICC knockouts – the 2000 Champions Trophy final, 2019 World Cup semi-final, 2021 TWC final – and the Black Caps have reached three ICC white-ball finals in eight years.

    Yes, Indian cricket fans have reason to feel concerned ahead of the first semi-final in Mumbai on Wednesday, given that it has been almost a decade and a half since their team won an ICC event, and 12 since the previous World Cup victory. Yes, New Zealand pose a threat to India, with Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson and Kane Williamson and Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner each capable of causing damage.

    Yes, losing the toss and being forced to bowl first does reduce India’s chances of winning the first semi-final. And yes, chasing under lights at the Wankhede Stadium has proven difficult in the first 20 overs.

    But hang on a moment. This Indian team, led by Rohit Sharma, has won nine matches in a row to top the group stage. An unprecedented run in Indian cricket. It has taken 84 of 90 possible wickets in nine matches. It has chased whatever target has been put in front of them. It has posted scores of 410/4, 326/5 and 357/8. It has defended 229 to win by 100 runs. It got out of a jam against Australia in the first match, moving from 2/3 to chasing 200 with six wickets in hand. Losing the toss has not had an impact on this team, and only once, against New Zealand in Dharamsala almost a month ago, did a match really go deep.

    Even factoring in the obvious home advantage that India have, it still requires batsmen and bowlers to go out and do their job, and by that yardstick this team has been the best in the tournament. The bowlers have been so good, that this is arguably the best World Cup attack ever assembled by India. They are the reason India are 9-0 in this World Cup.

    Jasprit Bumrah leads India’s bowling attack with 17 wickets at an economy rate of 3.65. Despite being benched for four matches in a row, Mohammed Shami has taken 16 wickets at just nine apiece. Ravindra Jadeja also has 16 wickets, while going at under four per over. Kuldeep Yadav has 14 wickets and Mohammed Siraj 12. All this, with Hardik Pandya missing five matches. It is remarkable.

    Virat Kohli, despite criticism of his strike rate, is the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 594 at an average of 99. Rohit is fourth with 503 at 55, and his role in consistently giving India strong starts is second to none. Shreyas Iyer has four fifties in nine innings while striking at over 106, and KL Rahul has a 97 not out and the fastest World Cup hundred by any Indian batsman ever.

    This is why I feel that fans of Team India do not need to fret about the semi-finals, or the New Zealand bogey team tag. This is a World Cup played at home, in which India have beaten each of their nine opponents. That proverbial ’45 minutes of bad cricket’ has not happened so far, and there’s enough reason to believe this will not happen in the semi-final.

    Have faith, Indian cricket fan. This World Cup has been different from others, and the knockouts promise to be so as well.

    About the Author

    Written by Jamie Alter

    Jamie Alter is a sports journalist, author, commentator, anchor, actor, and YouTuber who has covered multiple cricket World Cups and other major sporting events while working with ESPNcricinfo, Cricbuzz, Network 18, the Zee Group and as Digital Sports Editor of the Times of India. Follow Jamie on Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.

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