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India vs New Zealand: Unbeaten Teams Eager to Continue Momentum in Rainy Nottingham

Karthik Lakshmanan |June 12, 2019, 9:43 PM IST
India vs New Zealand: Unbeaten Teams Eager to Continue Momentum in Rainy Nottingham

Nottingham: The only two unbeaten teams in the tournament are set to face each other at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Thursday (June 13). Unfortunately, though, all eyes are trained elsewhere - upwards towards the sky, to be precise.

Persistent rain and a 'yellow warning' from Monday morning has put a cloud - no pun intended - over the match between India and New Zealand. The cold weather forced both teams to stay indoor for a couple of days; New Zealand practised indoor on Tuesday while India literally stayed indoor.

Rain relented a little on the eve of the game, allowing teams to peep out for outdoor training. India's batsmen braved the drizzle and hit the nets, receiving throwdowns. Vijay Shankar was the first to bat - perhaps an indication that he could slot in in the middle order given India have lost Shikhar Dhawan to injury. Dinesh Karthik, the other contender for the slot, had a fairly long session too.

India's bowlers stayed away from the session - why would they risk slipping and injuring themselves given the wetness of the outfield.

The forced change involves KL Rahul getting back to the opening position. There's no doubt he'd enjoy it too; he averages 56 there from seven innings while he averages just 16.66 from eight innings elsewhere in the order. His only ODI ton and two half-centuries have come as an opener. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is the better opening pair, but Rahul isn't a bad third option at all.

The rejig forces India to change their game-plan. They now have no left-handers in the batting unit, unless they play Ravindra Jadeja which is unlikely. But India will believe they have all bases covered. The manner in which they won the first two games - against tough opposition - will give them confidence.

India had all-round victories in both the games. The first one, against South Africa, was powered by bowlers. The second, against Australia, saw the batsmen combining for a strong performance.

On the other hand, New Zealand's victories have largely been powered by their bowlers. They skittled out Sri Lanka for 136 and Afghanistan for 172. Between the two games, they also bowled out Bangladesh for 244.

Covers come on Nottingham pitch ahead of India-New Zealand game. (Pic: Karthik Lakshmanan) Covers come on Trent Bridge pitch ahead of India-New Zealand game. (Pic: Karthik Lakshmanan)

Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson and Jimmy Neesham have been among the wickets for New Zealand, while Trent Boult has largely been a silent supporter. The conditions in Nottingham will excite Boult - if he swings the ball, he can run through the Indian line up as he has done on a few occasions.

The wicket in Trent Bridge is known for being batsmen friendly, but West Indies showed against Pakistan and Australia that you can trouble teams with raw pace. The pitch has been under cover for three days, and the dampness should help bowlers. Pace and bounce off the wicket, swing in the air - New Zealand have a perfect attack to utilise conditions on offer in Henry, Ferguson and Boult.

New Zealand have picked 30 wickets from three games, but their batsmen are yet to be tested properly. The only time that happened slightly was in the Bangladesh game, when they huffed and puffed to a two-wicket win chasing 245. India could pose a different challenge, as was evident in the recent series in New Zealand.

India will take confidence from that win, while New Zealand can take confidence from their victory in the warm-up match before the World Cup. Much will depend on the toss too; whoever wins is likely to field first given all the factors.

Probable XIs:

India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(capt), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni(w), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham(wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

PS: All of the above applicable only if weather permits. Forecast for Thursday? 'High chance of precipitation' through the day.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more