World Cup 2019, India vs New Zealand: A deeper look into what should be an enthralling contest
The only remaining unbeaten sides will clash for game 18 of the ICC World Cup 2019 on the 13th of June, 3:00 PM IST at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
New Zealand have been clinical so far, winning all three of their matches convincingly. They crushed both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, bowling them out for low totals and then chasing down the scores with consummate ease. Bangladesh proved to be more of a challenge but they still managed to win with wickets and overs to spare.
India have started their campaign in dominant fashion, beating two early tournament favorites without many hiccups along the way. They chased down South Africa's total with 15 balls and 6 wickets to spare after bowling them out to a sub-par score, and successfully defended their mammoth total of 352 against Australia.
The last time these two teams faced each other in ODIs was in January of this year for a five-match series in New Zealand. Despite Jasprit Bumrah being rested and Virat Kohli not playing in two matches, the Men in Blue thrashed the Blackcaps 4-1 and were clearly the superior side.
During their more recent fixture in the warm-up game, New Zealand thrashed India, bowling them out for just 179.
New Zealand have played the same lineup for all three of their matches. Considering the potency of India's bowling attack, they are likely to shore up their batting with the addition of talented southpaw Henry Nicholls.
Given their big hitting capabilities, it is unlikely that Colin Munro or Martin Guptill will lose their spot. It will likely be one of the all-rounders who will make way for Nicholls.
New Zealand's pace trio of Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and Trent Boult are having a successful World Cup, with Ferguson and Henry both picking up 4-fers. They are the two leading wicket-takers of the tournament. Ferguson has also been very economical, giving away just 3.8 runs per over.
Boult has been successful against India in the past and his ability to swing the ball both ways could trouble the Indian batsmen.
Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, meanwhile, have been holding up the batting unit and will be tested with both pace and spin on Thursday.
Given the injury to Shikhar Dhawan (fractured thumb), India will be forced to make a lineup change. KL Rahul should move up the order and take Dhawan's spot opening the innings.
It is a toss-up between Vijay Shanker and Dinesh Karthik for the middle order spot that opens up. But given his clear edge in experience, Karthik is likely be picked for the number 4 spot.
Despite the loss of one of their prefered openers, India still has what is arguably the best batting lineup in the tournament. Rohit Sharma looks in fine touch with a century and a fifty in the two games. Hardik Pandya has been crucial for India with his power hitting. Both Dhoni and Kohli have made valuable contributions and are due for some big scores.
Rahul has looked promising and should benefit from his move up the order. Kedhar Jadhav is yet to face a ball but is known for his ability to score runs at a very healthy strike rate.
On the bowling side, India has the number one bowler in the world in Jasprit Bumrah, with ample support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar who swings the ball as well as anyone else in world cricket today. India also possesses the dangerous spin twins of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Chahal has 6 wickets to his name and has been India's number one wicket-taker so far.
Given Kuldeep's ineffectiveness so far, the team may be tempted to bring in Ravindra Jadeja who, in addition to being a more than competent spinner, will augment the team's lower order. However, taking Kuldeep's potential to run through batting lineups into consideration, they will likely persist with the left-arm chinaman bowler.
The weather forecast predicts rain on Thursday. With such a thrilling contest in the offing, one can only hope that rain does not play spoilsport in yet another fixture this World Cup.
Also read - Best bowling figures in world cup