IND vs NZ, ICC World Cup 2019, Semi-Final 1: India’s Predicted Playing XI Against New Zealand

New Delhi: After winning seven out of their nine round robin matches to finish atop the points table and secure a well-deserved place in the knockouts of the ongoing ICC World Cup, two-time World Cup champions India will take on New Zealand in the first semi-finals of the showpiece event at Old Trafford in Manchester.

The pre-tournament favourites go into the semis rich on confidence after registering some notable wins over defending champs Australia, arch rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa. They were tested to the hilt by Afghanistan but held their nerves to go over the finishing line. However, India will be playing New Zealand for the first time in the tournament as their round robin fixture at Trent Bridge got washed out due to rain.

India’s winning juggernaut in the round robin stage of the tournament has been largely on the back of the breath-taking form of their opener Rohit Sharma, who has taken the world by a storm by scoring a record breaking 5 centuries. Rohit has been well supported by Indian skipper Virat Kohli and opener KL Rahul who have been among the runs for the ‘Men in Blue’.

The Indian bowling attack has been on the money right through the tourney with their pace spearheads Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami being in rich wicket taking form. Last but not the least, there have been valuable contributions by all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja which have been crucial to the team’s interest. The Indian spinners could come to the fore against the Kiwis who are traditionally known to be weak against spin.

Here’s India’s Predicted XI for the first semi-final against New Zealand

OPENERS

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul

Rohit Sharma – Rohit Sharma has been the star with the willow for India in the ongoing World Cup. The stylish stroke maker has struck a purple patch with the bat scoring a staggering 647 runs in eight matches. The opener has been prolific with the bat all through the round robin stage, scoring a record five tons in the tournament and being the architect of his team’s wins on most occasions. India will look forward to the ‘Hitman’ coming good against the New Zealanders at the big stage with another big knock.

KL Rahul – KL Rahul, who came in as the replacement opener of the injured Shikhar Dhawan has reposed faith over his selection by producing some solid performances with the bat and providing solidity at the top of the innings with his senior partner Rohit Sharma. After chipping in with some well compiled half tons against Pakistan and Bangladesh, Rahul produced a scintillating knock by scoring his maiden World Cup ton against Sri Lanka at Leeds.

MIDDLE ORDER

Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant

Virat Kohli – The Indian skipper has once again been the lynch-pin of the Indian middle order by consistently scoring runs all through the round robin stage of the tournament. Kohli may have not been at his prolific best but has done considerably well to notch up five half centuries and play the sheet anchor’s role to the in-form Rohit Sharma. Given the fact that the Indian skipper relishes performing on `the big stage, Kohli would desperately want to play a match winning knock in the semis against the Black Caps and take Indian across the finishing line.

MS Dhoni – A lot has been said about MS Dhoni’s lacklusture form with the bat but nevertheless he remains a pivotal role to India’s middle order. Given the tons of experience he has in finishing of games with his cool and calm temperament, Mahi could well be the man for India in a high stake semis against the Kiwis. With Dhoni, it is always more than just his batting, Mahi chips in with his cricketing acumen every now and then and helps Virat Kohli execute some game changing tactics. If we forgot, one ought to remember how clinical he has been behind the stumps by effecting some lighting quick stumping’s.

Rishabh Pant – Rishabh Pant has impressed in bits and pieces with some quick-fire knocks but needs to convert them into meaningful scores lower down the order. The wicket-keeper batsman has fared reasonably well with the bat scoring 48 against Bangladesh and 32 versus Sri Lanka. The diminutive left-hander’s power hitting ability could be a X factor against New Zealand and guarantee him a place ahead of the more seasoned and experienced Dinesh Karthik.

ALL-ROUNDERS

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja

Hardik Pandya – Hardik Pandya has been striking the ball pretty well in the World Cup so far. The hard hitting batsman has played some quick fire cameos in the tournament to help India pile up some monumental totals. The medium pacer has provided good support to his senior pacemen by chipping in with 9 wickets at crucial stages of some matches. Besides his valuaable contributions with bat and ball, Pandya continues to be a livewire on the field with his brilliant fielding.

MS Dhoni – A lot has been said about MS Dhoni’s lacklusture form with the bat but nevertheless he remains a pivotal role to India’s middle order. Given the tons of experience he has in finishing of games with his cool and calm temperament, Mahi could well be the man for India in a high stake semis against the Kiwis. With Dhoni, it is always more than just his batting, Mahi chips in with his cricketing acumen every now and then and helps Virat Kohli execute some game changing tactics. If we forgot, one ought to remember how clinical he has been behind the stumps by effecting some lighting quick stumping’s.

Rishabh Pant – Rishabh Pant has impressed in bits and pieces with some quick-fire knocks but needs to convert them into meaningful scores lower down the order. The wicket-keeper batsman has fared reasonably well with the bat scoring 48 against Bangladesh and 32 versus Sri Lanka. The diminutive left-hander’s power hitting ability could be a X factor against New Zealand and guarantee him a place ahead of the more seasoned and experienced Dinesh Karthik.

ALL-ROUNDERS

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja

Hardik Pandya – Hardik Pandya has been striking the ball pretty well in the World Cup so far. The hard hitting batsman has played some quick fire cameos in the tournament to help India pile up some monumental totals. The medium pacer has provided good support to his senior pacemen by chipping in with 9 wickets at crucial stages of some matches. Besides his valuaable contributions with bat and ball, Pandya continues to be a livewire on the field with his brilliant fielding.

Ravindra Jadeja – Ravindra Jadeja could land himself a spot in the playing eleven against New Zealand in the semis. The spin all-rounder lends depth to the batting and is also a handy tweaker with the ball who more often than not chips in with a wicket or two. Add to that, his superlative fielding skills which makes him an indispensable asset on the field. ‘Jaddu’ is the guy who can lift the entire team morale.

BOWLING ATTACK

SPINNERS

Kuldeep Yadav – Kuldeep Yadav may have not been at his wicket taking best in the middle overs but the tweaker has been pretty economical with his leg spin to squeeze the scoring rate in the middle overs. Given the fact that the Kiwis apart from Williamson and Taylor are not the best players of spin, Yadav could well play a major role if the Old Trafford pitch offers some turn and purchase off the deck.

Yuzvendra Chahal – The ace leg spinner has been among the wickets in the tournament, dismissing 11 batsman with his craft on the turning and slow decks. However, Chahal has been expensive at times going for plenty against England and Pakistan. With New Zealand batsman being suspect against top quality spin, the leggie along with his spin twin Yadav could be a game changer in the middle stage of the Kiwis innings.

SEAMERS

Jasprit Bumrah – India’s strike weapon with the new ball has been phenomenal in the World Cup so far. Bumrah has been instrumental in getting India the initial breakthroughs and has also been miserly in giving away runs in both the powerplays and at the death. As usual, he has been dead accurate with nagging line and length and continuously troubled the best of batsmen at this World Cup.With 17 wickets, he is India’s highest wicket taker in the round robin stages of the tournament

Mohammad Shami – Mohammad Shami has been in rich wicket taking form for India at this edition of the World Cup. The seamer has proved to be the game changer with the ball courtesy his three successive hauls of 4 or more wicket in an innings. Shami has produced breath-taking spells against Afghanistan, England and West Indies to win games for India. His hat-trick against Afghanistan has been one of the talking point of the tournament so far.