With India and New Zealand starting off their campaigns with a hundred percent win record in the ongoing World Cup, one of the two teams will probably lose their winning streak as they will be squaring off against one another at Nottingham for the 18th fixture of the tournament.
New Zealand having faced Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the tournament will now face a much stronger opponent in the form of India as they have registered two big wins against South Africa and Australia respectively.
The Kiwis enjoyed a comfortable win against the Men in Blue in the warm-up game prior to the tournament as Trent Boult broke through the ever so consistent top order of the Indian team by picking up four prized wickets.
New Zealand bundled out India for a paltry score of 179 and chased it down with six wickets to spare in just 37 overs.The swinging conditions at Cardiff were too hot to handle for the Indians in the warm-up game, but Nottingham’s flat deck might change the complexion of the game as it will favour the batsmen.
For the Indian team, both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan secured a century each but Dhawan’s loss due to injury will certainly impact on the playing composition as KL Rahul might be asked to open the innings.
Rahul’s presence in the middle order sorted India’s number four problem but now, the team faces a similar situation as Dinesh Karthik or Vijay Shankar might get an opportunity.
Virat Kohli’s knock of 82 against Australia would certainly do a word of good for the Indian skipper as he is due for a big innings. At the same time, Hardik Pandya’s brilliant knock of 48 (27) would have sent a clear message to the oppositions that he will be used as a floater for the Indian team.
Along with Pandya, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jhadav are experienced enough to finish off the innings on a positive note.
For New Zealand, there is a dire need of consistency from their openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro who performed well against Sri Lanka in the first game but haven’t been consistent since then.
Kane Williamson with 119 runs while Ross Taylor with 130 runs in the tournament so far, have been the flag bearers for the New Zealand batting line-up.
It’s New Zealand’s bowling which looks far more accomplished at the moment with Lockie Ferguson (eight wickets), Matt Henry (seven wickets), and James Neesham (seven wickets) finding a place in the top five wicket-takers list.
New Zealand is also thriving on the form of their two all-rounders, Colin de Grandhomme, and James Neesham who have contributed significantly well in all the three games so far.
For the Indian team, it’s Yuzvendra Chahal who leads the pack (six wickets), as the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have contributed with five wickets each.
The last competitive ODI series between both the nations took place in January and the Indian team outperformed New Zealand 4-1 in their very own den.
As for the player battles, Rohit Sharma would be looking to counter the pace of Lockie Ferguson who has got the better of Sharma on previous occasions. New Zealand, on the other hand, would want to negate the threat from Indian spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal, as they have faltered to tackle wrist-spin in recent times.
New Zealand’s struggle against Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan while facing Bangladesh almost led them to defeat which further solidifies the claim as they were unable to chase down a total of 245 with conviction.
On the contrary to India’s spin attack, Mitchell Santner hasn’t looked as intimidating as he should be. The Indian batsmen wouldn’t hesitate in using their feet with utmost confidence as conditions are seamer friendly and spinners haven't got much assistance from the turf.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s three-wicket spell against Australia was vital as it shifted the momentum in India’s favour. Prior to that game, his position in the playing XI was a big question mark with Mohammed Shami consistently knocking on the doors for a spot in the playing XI.
Kumar’s swing and movement, along with variations in the second spell against the defending champions was a treat to watch and a repeat performance would be expected from him against the Kiwis. Kumar and Bumrah will lead the bowling attack as Bumrah has been phenomenal in the tournament so far.
India also has the cushion of an extra game which will assist them even more if they manage to win against the Kiwis.In head-to-head encounters between India and New Zealand at the World Cup, it’s the Black Caps who have a slight edge with four wins over India’s three in seven encounters.
The weather can play spoilsport as it is raining heavily at Nottingham and the forecast for Thursday isn’t great either.
(Featured Image: Twitter/BCCI)
About the Author
Comes from the United Arab Emirates, is a sports junkie and a journalist, who has been following cricket as well as football since childhood. Played cricket in academies, school, and university levels. A fanatic follower of one of Europe's biggest ever football clubs - Manchester United.