India take on New Zealand in the rain an run-filled Nottingham at the 2019 World Cup. Will one of the teams loe their first game or will rain have a say?
It’s that English weather again. A spate of rained off games already and it’s been raining ever since I landed in Nottingham, and locals say the forecast for the rest of the week is more rain…and more rain.
Virat Kohli, when asked if he thought India were on their way to the semi-finals with wins against South Africa and Australia, said it was early days but did admit that beating these two of the top ODI sides in the world made the job easier.
New Zealand have never made any job easy for any opponent in World Cup cricket, they had beaten India in the pre-World Cup warmup game and on paper, could make for a sterling contest as well.
Not that Kohli is worried, having said India is looking at the challenge of playing the top sides first up before entering into the business end of the tournament with teams like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka still remaining.
Speaking of worry and Shikhar Dhawan’s injury during the game against Australia looked serious enough and the news now is that he might be ruled out for at least three weeks from the competition. Official confirmation is still awaited obviously but it is a big enough blow. Every chance now that Rahul could be shunted back to open and just when it looked like the number four spot was getting sealed, a change could be needed.
The other player I had spoken was Bhuvneshwar Kumar and how Mohammad Shami could have been a better pick – well two innings. One Bhuvi has been a resounding success so far, with five wickets for 94 at an economy of better than five but more vitally, he got those two huge wickets in an over against Australia.
Kohli’s decision to back Chahal and Kuldeep against South Africa was down to their performance in South Africa in the 2017-18 series was a brilliant one but it also gives an insight into what they might do with Kuldeep in this one. Despite not completing his quota of overs and going for 55 from his nine, the left-arm unorthodox had done brilliantly in the ODI series in New Zealand.
Then again, the fact that there might be moisture around and because Mohammad Shami was India’s best bowler in that series – nine wickets at 15.33, it could just be a toss to wait for.
Three matches played, three maches won. This isn’t too different from the 1992 version of the World Cup, which is the only previous World Cup where all teams played all other teams, and New Zealand have begun with an identical start. Incidentally, they did the same again in the 2015 edition too.
Sri Lanka were given a pounding of their lifetime, and Afghanistan were crushed as well but between those two games, New Zealand came against a resurgent and gritty Bangladesh side. Bangladesh could have got more but Matt Henry’s four-fer restricted them to 244.
Chasing 245 for a win, NZ would have lost Kane Williamson and slumped to 65/3 but instead this is what happened:
An easy runout of Kane Williamson was missed by Mushfiqur Rahim thanks to the kind of rush one only sees in the peak hours of Mumbai, and from there on, the Kiwi skipper helped New Zealand through a thrilling, two-wicket win.
That was followed by Jimmy Neesham finally finding his off social media calling with a five-fer against Afghanistan that propelled New Zealand to another facile win, making it three wins in three games and now, after a good, four-day break they take on a fourth Asian team in a hope to becoming the first team to all but seal the semi-final berth.
But it won’t be easy – since that fateful tour of New Zealand in 2014, where India failed to win a single game in either format, they have a 9-4 win-loss record in ODIs and 3-0 in Tests.
New Zealand had defeated India earlier in a warm-up game before the World Cup but it made for an interesting conversation post match with the Kiwis – none of those who came to interact with the media, coach Gary Stead, Trent Boult, Ross Taylor and others, read too much into the win.
(unable to access ICC media zone to see if there are any videos for this)
– Since the previous World Cup for grounds which have hosted more than 2 ODIs, Trent Bridge is the highest-scoring ground.
– Head to head: India are 55-45 ahead on overall head to head, and since the previous World Cup it is 9-4 in favour of India. In World Cup cricket, New Zealand, however, prove to be the stronger of the two sides with a 4-3 win-loss record against India, and in England, India have never beaten New Zealand. Three played three lost!
– Since making his debut, Trent Boult has picked up 148 wickets. Only one bowler has more than him in this period.
– In that same period, Boult has also picked up 22 wickets against India which is the most by any bowler. The second best is Tim Southee, who has 21 followed by Pat Cummins, Steven Finn and James Faulkner.
– Here’s the issue though. Southee hasn’t played since their warmup game against India at The Oval, and given Boult’s record and the fact that Lockie Ferguson (8 wickets) and Matt Henry (7 wickets) have done well, it is tough to see Southee return to the XI.
– For batsmen who have played any substantial number of innings against New Zealand since the last WC, more than three, Virat Kohli’s average of 85 is the best for any batsman.
Two played, two lost. That’s my prediction record but at least you know what to do now. Take my predictions with a pinch of salt and reverse them.
This one, I think Trent Bridge will continue to remain a high-scoring contest, with the total number of runs in the game over 590 in this one if there’s an uninterrupted game in this one. Trouble is, the weather isn’t expected to improve a lot and we might see a rain-reduced encounter, and instead of a prediction, I offer a prayer this time on ICC’s behalf – we don’t see another rained-off encounter.