Trent Bridge, Nottingham
June 13, Thursday, 15:00 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
New Zealand sit atop the points table having won their first three matches, yet, somehow the spotlight is not exactly on them. That could change, though, if the Blackcaps beat India, who are the only other team to have not tasted defeat so far in this World Cup, having played a match less than their opponent on Thursday. But before India and New Zealand plot the course of their victories, they will have one eye on the weather, with heavy rains forecast on the matchday.
Theoretically, New Zealand were expected to win their first three matches, against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They had a scare towards the end of the Bangladesh match at The Oval last week, but Kane Williamson and co. were dominant against their other two Asian opponents, beating Sri Lanka by 10 wickets and winning by seven wickets against Afghanistan.
New Zealand have prospered thanks in no small part to their bowling, which has set up each of their three victories, with Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and James Neesham taking 21 wickets between them so far. If the Trent Bridge pitch plays to type, the best bowling attack of the tournament could face a stiff challenge against a strong Indian batting line-up. This battle between the New Zealand bowlers and the Indian batsmen is likely to shape the result of the match (weather permitting, of course). This is the biggest test of the Blackcaps’s World Cup campaign so far and how they deal with the pressure of playing a heavyweight will give us some pointers as to what they might achieve between now and July 14.
India have, unsurprisingly, been excellent. Virat Kohli, who doesn’t normally have a good success rate with the coin toss, has won two tosses in a row and the decisions to bowl and bat first have paid off handsomely. In the first match against South Africa, India’s bowling set up the victory and, at The Oval last Sunday, the batsmen provided a substantial cushion of runs to defend against Australia.
Over a long tournament as this World Cup is, teams are bound to have one or two or, as in South Africa’s case (they had Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla unfit to play the second match with injuries, while Lungi Ngidi picked up a hamstring strain during the Bangladesh match), more than a couple of their key players injured at some point. While an injury to a key player like Shikhar Dhawan (who has a hairline fracture on his left thumb) is part of the challenge of winning a World Cup and any major tournament for that matter, India’s bench strength is in for a litmus test. If KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma deliver good starts, Dhawan’s absence might not be greatly felt, though the lack of a right-left batting combination (particularly with Dhawan being the only left-hander in India’s XI for the opening two matches) is a sizeable advantage for the opposition bowling attacks.
The pitch report and weather forecast
West Indies, who won one and lost one of their two matches at the Trent Bridge, enjoyed playing here. They won two tosses, elected to bowl first and rattled the opposition with their quick short-pitch bowling, which was aided by the pace in the pitch. The one other match, between England and Pakistan, was a high-scoring one, which is suggestion enough that the pitch is conducive to stroke play as well. The short square boundaries contribute to the high-scoring matches that we tend to get at this venue.
A 72 per cent chance of rain is forecast for Thursday morning, while the chance of rain in the afternoon is 65 per cent.
Playing 11 for India vs New Zealand
Dhawan’s injury has forced India to alter their winning combination, though the team management might make more than one replacement in India’s playing 11 from the win over Australia. Dinesh Karthik might take Dhawan’s place, with Rahul pushed up to open the batting alongside Rohit Sharma. It could also mean MS Dhoni bats at No. 4, with Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya slotted at Nos. 5 and 6, followed by Karthik at No. 7.
Possible Indian playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 KL Rahul, 4 MS Dhoni (wk), 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Dinesh Karthik, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Kuldeep Yadav
New Zealand haven’t had injuries and have won their three matches with the same XI. Expect them to retain their XI for the fixture against India.
New Zealand playing 11: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult
India’s game-plan is clear: try not to lose wickets in the powerplay. This tactic paid rich dividends in their win over Australia, with Shikhar Dhawan cutting loose when Nathan Coulter-Nile was introduced into the attack from one end, replacing Mitchell Starc. India feel, with the likes of Pandya, Jadhav and now potentially Karthik in their middle and lower-middle order, they can accelerate towards the end if they have wickets in hand. This means the battle between the New Zealand new-ball bowlers and the Indian openers will be key and could prove decisive. With rains expected throughout the day and Duckworth-Lewis to contend with, expect the captain winning the toss to opt to bowl first.