Early wickets the key to the final | Daily News


India take on New Zealand in first WC semi-final today

Early wickets the key to the final

Rival skippers Virat Kohli of India and Kane Williamson of New Zealand prepare for Tuesday’s big game at Old Trafford. - AFP
Rival skippers Virat Kohli of India and Kane Williamson of New Zealand prepare for Tuesday’s big game at Old Trafford. - AFP

MANCHESTER, Monday - India and New Zealand will strive for early wickets when they meet in the first-semi-final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup to be played at Old Trafford, here on Tuesday.

As both sides have a strong top batting order getting early wickets will be the key to keeping the team down to a decent score.

India’s top order is dominated by the Rohit Sharma who seems to be in the form of his life becoming the first man to score five centuries in a single World Cup tournament, having gone past Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara’s four scored in the 2015 World Cup.

Sharma achieved the feat in the last league game against Sri Lanka where he and his opening partner Lokesh Rahul who also made a hundred figured in a stand of 189.

Sharma is also on the threshold of another World Cup milestone for the highest aggregate of runs scored in one tournament. He is 27 runs short of another Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s total of 673 achieved in 2003. While Tendulkar got those runs in 11 matches, Sharma who has played in 8 matches so far has an aggregate of 647.

At one drop is the Indian captain Virat Kohli who has yet to score a hundred in the current World Cup, which is something rare considering the high standards he has set himself.

Kohli said that he was prepared to play a secondary role to Sharma as long as the team was winning.

“It’s been a different kind of role that I've had to play in this World Cup and, as the captain of the team, I have been open to playing any kind of role that the team wants me to,” said Kohli at the pre-match press conference.

“It’s great that Rohit is scoring so consistently which means that coming in the later half of the innings you have to play a different role which is controlling the middle overs and letting guys like Hardik (Pandya), Kedar (Jadhav), MS (Dhoni) in the past few games, and now Rishabh (Pant), come out and express themselves.

“I think playing a team sport you need to adapt and I’m very happy doing that role and I hope Rohit gets two more hundreds so we can win two more games. It’s an outstanding achievement. I have never seen anyone get five hundreds in a World Cup, or any tournament. He has been outstanding and he deserves all the credit. According to me, he is at the moment the top ODI player in the world,” he said.

The New Zealand top order comprises Martin Guptill, who’s had a rather quite World Cup so far, Henry Nicholls, skipper Kane Williamson who has made the bulk of the runs for his team with 481 runs and two hundreds and Ross Taylor.

“There’s a lot of parts to (dismissing Rohit) and as a bowling unit, first and foremost, it’s assessing conditions. Rohit has been clearly the stand-out batter in this tournament so far and been batting beautifully,” said Williamson.

“But, as we know, we come into a semi-final. It is another day where both sides will be trying to adjust to the conditions as quickly as possible and both teams will be looking for early wickets regardless of what their name may be, but, without a doubt, he's been superb throughout the tournament,” he said.

New Zealand came to the semi-finals as the unfancied outsiders of the four having lost their last three league games to Pakistan, Australia and England, but still qualifying for the final four on net run rate.

“I think for everybody it sort of starts fresh tomorrow after what was a very tough round-robin stage, and we were certainly expecting that it would be tough,” said Williamson.

“It’s just a great occasion to be a part of. I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and try and, try and play with that freedom that when we do, gives us the best chance.”

New Zealand who were runners-up four years ago, are fully confident of toppling the pre-match favourites and returning to the biggest stage in world cricket.

Kohli and Williamson will be meeting each other as rival skippers at an ICC semi-final for the second time in 11 years. They last played against each other captaining their respective countries in the ICC Under 19 World Cup semi-finals in Malaysia with India pulling off a three-wicket win.

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