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Five talking points ahead of India vs New Zealand CWC19 first Semi-Final

by Sahir Usman Jul 09, 2019 • 14:03 PM

July 9 (CRICKETNMORE) - It took until the final overs of the final group game but eventually confirmation came through that it would be India and New Zealand facing off in the first World Cup semi-final. This will be the very first meeting between the sides in a knockout game at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

The game features two of the world’s leading batsmen captaining their sides in Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, as well as a pair of strike bowlers at the top of their game in Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult.

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So as the teams bid for a place in Sunday’s final at Lord’s, here are some of the key talking points:

Kane v Kohli

For sheer consistency, there are few who can rival the two skippers, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson.

The pair have been going up against one another for more than a decade, going all the way back to their team at Under-19 level.

Back in 2008, they captained their respective sides at the Under-19 World Cup, also at the semi-final stage.

That day it was India who emerged on top, with Kohli – then more of an all-rounder – dismissing Williamson who was opening the batting.

They have since gone onto become two of the most prolific run-getters in international cricket, and the backbone of their batting line-ups, combining for 99 international centuries. Could the semi-final be the occasion to make it to a hundred hundreds?

So far neither has quite produced at their best in a World Cup semi-final or final, Kohli’s 35 in the 2011 final the best either has managed across three combined semi-finals and two finals.

However, interestingly both admitted before the game that it is not Kohli, but teammate Rohit Sharma, who is currently the world’s leading ODI batsmen. The hope for New Zealand is that the combination of Sharma and Kohli does not outweigh Williamson’s contribution.

Five bowlers or six

In each of their last two matches – victories over Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – India have played five specialist bowlers who have all bowled their ten overs.

With a trio of wicket-keepers in the batting line-up, Kohli has been more reliant on his front-line bowlers to complete their full complement.

This combination has been possible because of Hardik Pandya’s development as a bowler, now becoming a very reliable option with his seam attack.

Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round abilities offer an alternative solution, were India to choose to bring in an extra all-rounder as a sixth bowling option.

The left-arm spinner did a good job in the win over Sri Lanka as part of a five-man attack, but his batting means that he could theoretically slot in at No.7 if India wanted to keep a sixth bowling option in reserve.

Batting coach Sanjay Bangar refused to commit one way or the other after the win over Sri Lanka last weekend to round out the group stage, but it is a choice which will have a large bearing on how the semi-final plays out.

The chase is on

One quick peak at the stats and it appears an obvious decision for the captain that wins the toss on Tuesday.

Five games of this World Cup have taken place at Old Trafford and five times the team that have batted first have gone on to win.

But first glances can often be deceiving, and dig a little deeper and it is clear that the Manchester surface is certainly true.

Chasing teams have come almighty close in what have been some high-scoring games in England’s north west.

Carlos Brathwaite was just a metre short of smashing the match-winning six that would have got the West Indies over the line in reply against the Black Caps.

And Alex Carey and David Warner just last weekend ensured Australia came within sight of South Africa’s impressive total of 325.

Should conditions look like they might offer something to the bowlers early on, neither captain should ignore the option of bowling first, safe in the knowledge that these Old Trafford decks have stood the test of time.

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