Old Trafford, Manchester
July 9, Tuesday; 15:00 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
None of the four World Cup semi-finalists had a choice as to who could they face, and where (Old Trafford in Manchester or Edgbaston, Birmingham). England and New Zealand’s final league positions were decided after the former’s thumping win over the Blackcaps in Durham last week, but Australia and India were first and second on the points table ahead of their final league fixtures on Saturday, and Australia’s 10-run defeat to South Africa handed India top spot, setting up a last-four clash with the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand.
New Zealand’s recent results (LLL) and their top order’s struggle for runs might make them a favourable opponent for India. However, with Lockie Ferguson expected to return to the playing XI after missing the England fixture with a hamstring problem, New Zealand have the bowling arsenal to trouble an in-form Indian top order. The Blackcaps beat India in the first warm-up fixture for these two teams and the template for Trent Boult and co. against the Indian batsmen will not be much different come Tuesday.
That said, New Zealand’s record against the top five teams at this World Cup is poor, to say the least: they lost to Australia, England and Pakistan in the group stage, and the fixture against India on June 13 was washed out due to rain. Batting failures were central to each of those three losses and for New Zealand to have a chance of beating India, the Martin Guptills and Ross Taylors must complement their captain, who has comfortably been their best batsman in the tournament so far.
Having already sealed qualification, India set out to experiment with their line-up in the final league fixture against Sri Lanka. Out went Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal from the win over Bangladesh and in came Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. India didn’t gain much through these changes in personnel and the team management is expected to fiddle with the line-up—not ideal, you might say—for the semi-final against New Zealand. (More on the team composition later.)
Having won seven of their eight completed matches in the league stage, India are the team with fewer worries and will be confident going into Tuesday’s semi-final. Virat Kohli has, in his press conferences and on-field interviews after the toss and in the presentation ceremony, reiterated that India don’t focus too much on their opponent. But New Zealand, who have played India a lot recently and have the assortment of bowlers to trouble a strong Indian top order, have the potential to challenge Kohli and his men.
Weather forecast and pitch report
Spotty showers are forecast for Tuesday, with a maximum of 21-degree Celsius.
A fresh pitch will be used for the India vs New Zealand semi-final. All the pitches used so far at Old Trafford have offered even pace and bounce, enabling the batsmen to hit through the line and play their shots, while the bowlers have gained some seam movement off the pitch, which was particularly evident in the match against India and West Indies. The captain who wins the toss, considering the pressure of a must-win match, is likely to opt to bat first.
India vs New Zealand Dream11 team prediction
Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Hardik Pandya, Tom Latham (wk), Rishabh Pant, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami
India vs New Zealand predicted playing 11
For India, Shami is likely to return to the playing 11, possibly in place of Kuldeep Yadav. Whether Dinesh Karthik retains his place or makes way for Chahal remains to be seen.
India’s predicted playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 KL Rahul, 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
For New Zealand, Ferguson is likely to replace Tim Southee, having recovered from the left hamstring injury that kept him out of the New Zealand match. Henry Nicholls hasn’t fired since replacing Colin Munro, who the team management might be tempted to bring back in.
New Zealand’s predicted playing XI: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro/Henry Nicholls, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Matt Henry, 11 Trent Boult
The battle between the New Zealand new-ball bowlers and the Indian top order will be fascinating and is one that could pivot the result in either team’s favour.