The six-week jousting for positions in the Cricket World Cup has come to an end and on Tuesday the really important stuff begins when India take on New Zealand in the first semi-final of the tournament at Old Trafford.
India ended up winning the group phase of the competition after an incredible final day of action in the first phase of the event, while New Zealand survived on net run rate to make it into another semi-final.
As they have been throughout the tournament, Kev and Steve are back with their preview of the first semi-final. They look at the match in depth, discuss both teams and the potential winner as well as four bets for the contest. Click play below to listen to their thoughts.
It would be wrong to say that India haven’t had their issues in this tournament, they so clearly have, and in a way one or two of them still remain but their weaknesses need a heck of a lot of exposing which keeps them competitive when other sides would shy away. Their big concern, and perhaps only worry of note comes in the form of their middle order, but when you have the leading run scorer in the tournament in your ranks and arguably the best batsman in the world after him, while it is an area to exploit, getting there takes a lot of work.
The impressive thing with India in this series has been the display of their seam bowlers. That isn’t because they are no good or anything like that, but the way they have bowled particularly at the start of the innings has been extremely good. They have barely gone for a run in the first 10 overs and given their strengths at the death that has put them so far ahead of the game it is untrue.
If India have the odd weakness to expose, New Zealand’s have been shown for the world to see it has to be said. Their big weakness has been in their batting where only two men have more than 250 runs in the competition to date. It is never a good thing to lose the last match before a semi-final, especially when it is a third loss on the trot, but if there was a positive from it, it comes in the form of a return to form of Tom Latham. They’ll need him to deliver here too.
New Zealand have managed to get past the poor form they have shown with the bat in the main, mostly because their bowling has been so good, although it would only be right to point out that their bowling was at its most potent against the weaker sides in the competition. That said, they were competitive against the bigger guns but I think it is fair to suggest they will face their biggest team of the tournament here.
India only have to decide upon the make up of their bowling attack. Ravi Jadeja performed well when he got his chance while the wrist spinners will want to play at Old Trafford. This all means there could be no place for Mohammad Shami again.
Lockie Ferguson sat out New Zealand’s last match against England with an injury but he is believed to have recovered enough to take his place in this side, which is handy because Tim Southee had a day to forget. Colin Munro could be recalled.
I’ll go with a few bets for this opening semi-final despite the forecast for showers on the day. The first is on under 9.5 sixes between two sides whose most dangerous players tend to do most of their scoring along the carpet and with two teams whose bowlers target the stumps in the main rather than short balls that can get hooked for six. There is a decent case to be made for suggesting that these are the two best bowling attacks in the tournament given the lack of respite they offer while New Zealand aren’t in great form with the bat and India are unlikely to go too hard too soon and risk exposing their fragile middle order. I like under 9.5 sixes here in a match of this magnitude.
Virat Kohli has a decent record against most teams in the world and New Zealand are very much one of them. He averages 68.52 against them with seven 50s and five tons against them in just 22 innings. His last 12 scores against the Kiwis have been 82, 85*, 9, 154*, 45, 65, 121, 29, 113, 45, 43 and 60, the last three of which came earlier this year. With that in mind, based on the fact he has covered a runs line of 40.5 in 10 of his last 12 against this opponent and made four 50s in this tournament, two of which were on this ground, I’ve got to back Kohli to go over his line. When you consider the magnitude of this match you’ve got to think a class act like Kohli will turn up on the day and so 41 runs is well in his range.
I will also take the run line of Tom Latham too and him to lead the New Zealand batting in this match. He has had an indifferent tournament to date but he came alive against England last time out with a solid 50 which didn’t just see him score runs but it gave him some time in the middle which was much needed. That confidence could be nicely timed because he has a wonderful record against India. Although his career average in ODI cricket is a modest 32.37 but against India that jumps up to 58.30 and it is over 13 matches so it is a true record. His scores against India have been 79*, 46, 61, 39, 19, 103*, 38, 65, 11. 34, 51, DNB and 37. His run line is 21.5 so he has covered that in 10 of his 12 knocks against them and was three away in another so that looks very low. Another thing that looks good is the 10/1 on him to top score. We know only Williamson and Taylor are in form for New Zealand so a man who has scored four 50s and a ton against this opponent is too big at 10/1 especially when he bats at five.
WON – Back Under 9.5 sixes for a 4/10 stake at 1.87 with 888sport
Back V.Kohli – Over 40.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back T.Latham – Over 21.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with BetVictor
Back T.Latham Top New Zealand Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 with William Hill
Back him here: