ICC ODI World Cup 2023: India set for Kiwis’ challenge in semis

India and New Zealand are all set to clash in the first semi-final of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 on Wednesday. This will be a virtual rematch of their semifinal showdown in 2019 at Manchester, where the Black Caps defeated India to reach the final. Team India has looked in superb touch, with all their batters and bowlers firing at the right time. However, the Kiwis are no pushover, as they possess all-round capabilities by most of their players. Let’s analyse some of the strengths and weaknesses of either side ahead of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 semi-final.

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India, champions in 1983 and 2011, are the frontrunners based on their current form as they return to the venue where they clinched a memorable victory against Sri Lanka in the 2011 final.

Under the leadership of skipper Rohit Sharma, India boasts a well-rounded team that is in exceptional form. With an impressive winning streak of nine consecutive victories, they secured their spot in the knockout round as the top-ranked team on the points table.

Their batting lineup, led by Virat Kohli (594), Rohit Sharma (503 runs), Shreyas Iyer (421), and K.L Rahul (347), has been in stellar form. Despite Hardik Pandya’s exit due to injury, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Mohammad Siraj have excelled. Playing at their home ground, the Wankhede Stadium, offers an added advantage in the semifinals.

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However, the Indian team faces underlying weaknesses. While Rohit Sharma has provided aggressive starts, Shubman Gill’s performances have been inconsistent. Although Kohli remains the top scorer, Shreyas and Rahul have also performed admirably. Yet, concerns arise beyond them.

Although Jadeja has been decent, Suryakumar Yadav’s inconsistent performance against a strong bowling unit could pose challenges. The middle-order batting remains a concern, as an off-day for two or three of the top four batsmen might leave the team vulnerable.

The immense pressure to win the World Cup adds to the team’s challenges. Constant travel across nine different venues for nine matches has taken its toll, impacting both the physical and mental well-being of the players.

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Big test for Black Caps in ICC ODI World Cup 2023

The Kiwis, who have been semifinalists in five consecutive ICC ODI World Cups, are yet to claim their maiden title. New Zealand consistently exceeds expectations in ICC events, reaching the semifinals in nine out of the previous 13 editions of the men’s 50-over World Cups. Their versatile players possess a range of skills, making them formidable opponents.

Rachin Ravindra has excelled in batting, amassing 565 runs with a superb average of 70.62. Daryl Mitchell’s contributions in the middle-order have earned him 418 runs. Meanwhile, opener Devon Conway has shown flashes of brilliance, accumulating 359 runs. Spinner Mitchell Santner has been a standout bowler, claiming 16 wickets, with Trent Boult following closely with 13. Tim Southee’s return bolsters the three-pronged pace attack, but Matt Henry’s injury has weakened the bowling unit.

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However, Henry’s injury has led to imbalance in the team, particularly in the bowling department. Injuries have affected the batting unit, where only a few players, including Rachin, Mitchell, and Conway, have made significant contributions.

Early wickets, especially on a Wankhede pitch with early movement, could pose severe problems for their middle order. Daryl Mitchell might have to shoulder significant responsibility once again. They have conceded substantial runs in some matches, which highlights their bowling vulnerabilities.

Nonetheless, their recent match against Pakistan, where they scored 401/6 before DLS halted play, showcased a more cohesive performance.

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