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India vs New Zealand: key players for the World Cup semi-final

13 Nov 2023
Simon Lewis 13 Nov 2023
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  • India play New Zealand in the 2023 Cricket World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, 15 November (10:30 SAST).
  • Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami are the top performers in a super-strong India side.
  • Rachin Ravindra’s form with the bat has driven New Zealand’s campaign.
Rachin Ravindra
Rachin Ravindra's explosive batting could be key to beating India. (credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

India’s key batters

The Indian top 6 is dominating like nobody’s business, but it’s Kohli who is the ringmaster, topping the World Cup runs list and passing 50 in seven of his nine innings. He’s looking infallible and unflappable… the question is, has he mastered the pressure of the World Cup semi-final?

Kohli is about to play his fourth World Cup semi-final in a row, and to date he has scored 9 (vs Pakistan, 2011), 1 (vs Australia, 2015) and 1 (vs New Zealand, 2019). That’s a total of 11 runs in three semi-finals at an average of 3.7!

Kohli is a masterful batter now, so likely he will have the mental strength to break his semi-final hoodoo… but even if he fails there is Sharma, Iyer, Rahul and Gill all ready to pull their considerable weight.

India’s key bowlers

Bumrah (17 wickets), Shami (16) and Jadeja (16) have devastated opposition line-ups en route to the World Cup semi-final. Bumrah offers devastating pace and yorkers, but Shami is the one to watch with his average of 9.57 and a phenomenal strike rate of a wicket every 12.00 balls. 

As with their batting, there are no weak links one can detect in the India bowling line-up. It will be up to the New Zealand batters and bowlers to amp up the pressure in the hope of derailing the Indian train.

New Zealand’s key batters

Devon Conway finished third in the IPL runs list this season and kicked off the World Cup with 152* against England, but has not reached 50 since. Skipper Kane Williamson has made a big impact since coming back from injury and is always a threat to the opposition.
New Zealand’s real big star of the World Cup, however, is Rachin Ravindra, who has burst onto the scene out of nowhere and is now third on the runs list. Ravindra started with 123* against England, added 116 against Australia and 108 against Pakistan, along with two half-centuries. The 23-year-old has not just scored big - he has made his runs fast and with a fantastic spirit of adventure and lack of fear. And he looks hungry for more!

New Zealand’s key bowlers

Trent Boult is always a threat, as illustrated by the 13 wickets he has picked up in the tournament so far, but their big-ticket bowler is Mitchell Santner. The 31-year-old is ninth on the wickets list with 16 at 24.87. He picked up 2/37 in the win over England, then returned 5/59 against the Netherlands and 3/39 against Afghanistan to kick-start New Zealand to four wins on the trot. He then put in a superb shift to return 1/37 from his 10 overs against India as they pushed India hard before losing with just two overs in hand, which started a run of four losses on the trot. He will be looking to pull a similar bowling trick out the bag against India in the semi-final. 

The final analysis

India are incredibly strong and should comfortably win the semi-final and final… but the pressure of a home crowd and the weight of knock-out cricket might prove a stumbling block to them in either match. New Zealand will also be buoyed by the knowledge that India lost in the semi-final in the last two World Cups, and if they can put a typically determined and disciplined “New Zealand” performance together then they have an excellent chance of causing a major upset by defeating India.

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