Predicting the World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and India
This was next to being an impossible event. I take pride in stating that in my last article, I predicted that South Africa will beat Australia and India will take top spot by hammering Sri Lanka.
The optimism I had was fulfilled by the talented Indian side.
A startling observation
Fastest two to complete 100 wickets in ODIs for India are Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Both of them are spearheading India's pace attack. Hardik Pandya with his change of pace has become a thorn in the flesh for opposing sides. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with his uncanny ability to move the ball, is a threat.
Bumrah (17 wickets in this World Cup) and Shami (14 wickets in just four matches) will put pressure in the first power play and will throttle New Zealand.
India only had three proper batsmen once Shikhar Dhawan got injured. Champions tend to rise from ashes and see how well the Men in Blue have performed after Dhawan's injury.
Rohit Sharma with five centuries has scored 647 runs. Virat Kohli has scored 442 runs without a century and KL Rahul with 360 runs has been contributing as well. These three have made more than 60% of Indian team's score. Whenever this happens, small contributions from Pandya, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, make India a formidable team.
So, India winning without a century from Kohli or a useful contribution from a non-existent middle-order is something no cricket pundit would have ever dreamt of.
Scouting New Zealand
Despite a strong start, the Blackcaps have struggled lately. They have lost their last three matches tamely. Their best and only consistent performer has been Kane Williamson with 481 runs. Openers Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls have been underwhelming. Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme and Tom Latham have played one good inning each and that doesn't not make them a winning team.
In the bowling department, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson have taken 14 and 17 wickets respectively. So first power play is a threat but after that it is smooth sailing as Mitchell Santner, de Grandhomme and Neesham are a threat only if the conditions are favorable. Bringing in Matt Henry would reduce the Blackcaps' batting capacity; a scenario they're not looking at.
The only solace which New Zealand is having that they won the warm up match against India with the World Cup game being washed out.
Old Trafford's pitch is suited for batting and it assists the bowlers who bend their back.
India has won two of their matches at Manchester, one against Pakistan and the other against the West Indies.
New Zealand, meanwhile, won a thriller against the Windies at this venue by a mere margin of five runs.
Which ever team will win toss will choose to bat as at Manchester, all matches have been won by the team batting first.
If India has to win, they need to put a total of 300+, probably 340. New Zealand will score around 275 in this case while chasing.
If New Zealand bats first, they will score around 275, which India will chase easily.
So, India is playing finals with odds of 5-2.