Two days ahead of the make-or-break clash, former New Zealand player Ross Taylormade an attempt to play mind games and reminded India of the outcome of the 2019 World Cup semi-final clash.Back then, India’s formidable run was halted as New Zealand defeated the Virat Kohli-led side in the rain-affected semifinal at Manchester.Taylor on Monday suggested that India might be feeling nervous about facing New Zealand in the World Cup, drawing comparisons to both teams’ campaigns in the 2019 edition.
Similar to 2019, India entered the semifinals as the table-topping team. On the other hand, New Zealand, despite starting the current tournament strongly, concluded the league stage in fourth place with five wins in nine games.
“As New Zealand prepare to take on India in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-finals, it is impossible not to look back at the parallels with 2019,” Taylor, who was part of that semifinal in Manchester, told ICC.
“Four years ago, India went into the semi-final as the form side in the tournament, while we were more focused on ensuring our net run-rate would keep Pakistan out of reach for the final spot in the top four.
“This time around, India are even bigger favourites, at home and having played so well during the group stage. But when we have nothing to lose, New Zealand teams can be dangerous.
“If there is a team that India will be nervous facing, it will be this New Zealand side,” said the one of the most prolific batters from New Zealand.
However, New Zealand’s task will be herculean given the current form of the Indian team.
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“We’re up against it, of course, but that was also the case in 2019. That was a two-day one-day game! (due to rain). It was a strange situation for me, I was not out overnight. That is nerve-wracking enough in Test cricket, let alone a one-dayer and a World Cup semi-final,” he recalled.
The game will be played at the Wankhede Stadium, usually a high-scoring venue.
Taylor said if New Zealand can strike early, it will put tremendous pressure on the Indian middle-order.
“The toss is important but if New Zealand can start well with bat and ball, that will give them a lot of confidence to stay in the fight.
“The first ten overs in both innings are crucial. When India are batting, you want to get them two or three down in the first ten overs to put them under pressure. They rely heavily on an excellent top three.
“There is Shubman Gill, the number one player in the world, and then Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. We need to try to make inroads and put the middle order under pressure.
“Then when India are bowling, it is similar. You want to score runs but it is also vital we keep wickets in hand against weapons like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami.
“When they get on a roll, they can be a lethal force, and the spinners can really pile on the pressure. If you keep wickets in hand, that is when it becomes a bit easier, rather than having to chase the game,” said Taylor.
Rachin Ravindra has been the stand out batter for New Zealand, amassing 565 runs in his first World Cup including three hundreds. He holds key for New Zealand, said Taylor.
“It will be a big day for Rachin Ravindra. When you have a guy who is named after a combination of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, it is special to play India in India in a World Cup semi-final.
“We needed someone to score heavily in the tournament. I am not sure many people would have expected it to be Rachin but I have been really impressed, not only by the runs he has scored but also the way he has gone about it, his tempo and calmness.
“He is just going out there and batting like he did as a little kid. He has not put any pressure on himself and I hope he continues to do that. He has a big part to play in the semi-final and in the future for New Zealand.
“It is funny to think that if Michael Bracewell had made it to the World Cup, Rachin probably would not have made it. Luck has probably played a part, but we all need that,” he added.
(With PTI Inputs)