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Match Preview – India vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 21st Match


Match Preview – India vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 21st Match


Big picture: Here comes India’s bogey team

Ask any ardent Indian fan which is their second-favourite cricket team, and New Zealand will remain a common answer. Ask the same set of fans which team spooks them the most when it comes to ICC events: New Zealand will once again be the unanimous reply. Why you ask.

It’s probably the memories of the last one here that has most Indian fans flinch. And as much as India would like to deny it, New Zealand have been their bogey team over the years. There are numbers to back this up. In all ICC events since 1992 (considering only the final from the WTC 2019-21 and 2021-23 cycles), India have beaten New Zealand just once in nine attempts.

Which is why when these two teams meet in Dharamsala on Sunday, it won’t be just another group stage game: there will be a bit of history riding on it. Also the fact that at the end of the clash, one team will no longer remain unbeaten in the competition.

Both New Zealand and India have been clinical in their approach and come into the game having won four out of four games. Who continues their winning streak? The answer might well depend on how the fast bowlers go.

As much as the Dharamsala stadium is about the stunning snow-capped mountains of the Dhauladhar range in the backdrop, it is also about the altitude. And with that altitude comes the help for the quicks. Of all the venues that have so far hosted more than one game at the World Cup, Dharamsala – alongside Lucknow – has offered the fast bowlers the most amount of swing in the first ten overs of each innings.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj become a key component in the Indian attack. They will miss Hardik Pandya, but if Mohammed Shami comes in, he is one bowler, who is certain to extract early movement with that upright seam.

While India’s attack seems more well-rounded, the New Zealand unit has been equally good. Their class of 2019 is very much intact with all of Matt Henry, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson having started the tournament well. On the spin front, Mitchell Santner leads the wicket-taking charts with 11 strikes at 15.09.

The batters across both sides have been in impeccable form. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Devon Conway are No. 2, 3 and 4 on the run charts, while the middle order also has been firing. Can they find a way to score big with the ball hooping around?

Form guide: Whose winning streak ends?

India: WWWWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
New Zealand: WWWWW

In the spotlight: Mohammed Siraj and Matt Henry

Mohammed Siraj hasn’t looked at his best so far in the World Cup. In four games, Siraj has managed only five wickets at 42.40. He’s also leaked runs at 6.32 an over. But if there is one venue that will give him a chance to improve on those numbers, it is Dharamsala. Siraj is one of the few bowlers going around who can get the ball to deck both ways. In Dharamsala, though, his wobble-seam deliveries might be the ones New Zealand will have to be most careful against. Siraj has had a dream 2023 in ODIs and will hope India’s next game is where he turns his World Cup around.

The Boults and the Southees often hog the limelight when the New Zealand fast bowling battery is spoken of but in the last two years, it has been Matt Henry, who has really been their shining light. No other New Zealand bowler has more wickets than Henry’s 41 in 24 ODIs since the start of 2022. But, it’s the way he has led the attack in the World Cup, which has been impressive. He’s outshone Boult and Lockie Ferguson, kept Tim Southee out of the team and picked up wickets when it’s mattered all while maintaining an economy of 4.83. He is currently fourth on the wicket-takers list with nine in four games at 18.00. A good game and he could zoom right to the top.

Team news: Who comes in for Pandya?

Pandya has been ruled out of the Dharamsala game after hurting his right ankle against Bangladesh on Thursday. The million-dollar question is who replaces him. Rahul Dravid wasn’t forthcoming about the changes, but talked about a few options they considered. There is a chance that India bring in Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan in place of Hardik and have Shardul Thakur tussle with Shami for the No. 8 spot.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Suryakumar Yadav/Ishan Kishan, 8 Shardul Thakur/Mohammed Shami, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mohammed Siraj

With the New Zealand attack firing like they have, Southee might have to spend some more in the sheds. Kane Williamson is still out with a thumb injury, so it is unlikely New Zealand will make any changes to the team.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Devon Conway, 2 Will Young, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mark Chapman, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult

Pitch and conditions: Beware the quicks

The surface looked very green on the eve of the game but a lot of that grass is likely to be shaved off before the start. Even then expect pace and carry for the fast bowlers. It was bright and sunny on the eve of the match, but it is expected to be cloudy and cooler on Sunday with the temperature likely to hover around the 18-degree mark on the Celsius scale at the start of the game.

Stats and trivia: All eyes on Gill

  • The captain winning the toss has elected to bowl in each of the seven ODIs played in Dharamsala.
  • Shubman Gill needs 14 runs to reach the 2000 mark in ODIs. If he gets there tomorrow, in his 38th innings, he will be the quickest to 2000 runs in ODI cricket. beating Hashim Amla’s (40) record.
  • Rohit has fallen to Boult four times in 13 ODI innings and averages just 22.25 against him.
  • Tom Latham has five fifties and two centuries in 20 ODI innings against India


“It’s nice to have Ishan [Kishan] playing well, being a left hander. But Surya’s [Suryakumar Yadav] also come into some form against Australia. He played a couple of fantastic innings. Absolutely fantastic player against spin – left-arm spin, right-arm spin, any kind of spin for that matter. And the role maybe for a middle-overs role. We’re pretty clear about the kinds of roles we want to play. If we’re looking for someone who looks to be a bit of an enforcer for us in the lower-middle order, and Surya’s certainly someone who can do it. If we’re looking for someone higher up the order, we might go with Ishan.”
India coach Rahul Dravid

“India’s top order has been fantastic this tournament and again, our bowling attack has done a really good job upfront as well. That’s going to be a great contest with bat and ball and obviously vice-versa with Indian seamers and our top order. Obviously, you look at the match-ups throughout a game against both sides and there is some pretty good match-ups there.”
New Zealand captain Tom Latham

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo


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