posted on 2019-07-08 20:51:17
posted by Sahil Jain
After 40 days and 45 games, we have our four semi-finalists - India, Australia, England and New Zealand have crossed the group stages and are just two games away from the World Cup title.
India face New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester in the first semi-final while the Ashes rivals, Australia and England, lock horns in the second semi-final which will be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham. While India and England have some momentum behind them, winning their respective last two league matches, Australia and New Zealand are coming off losses.
Hence, as we are set to kickstart the knockouts, here are five player battles to watch out for in the two semi-finals.
Virat Kohli vs Tim Southee
Virat Kohli and Tim Southee go a long way back. These two superstars faced each other in the 2008 Under 19 World Cup semi-final as well. More than a decade later, they are back facing each other (probably) in yet another World Cup semi-final.
The two have had a lot of battles in international cricket over the years and numbers suggest the battle has been quite even. Kohli has been severe on Southee at times but the Kiwi fast bowler has also got the current Indian skipper out five times in ODI cricket. Kohli averages 37.6 against Southee and has a strike-rate of 105.
However, Southee has played just one game in this World Cup and was expensive, returning with figures of 1/70. Meanwhile, Kohli has been in excellent form. He has amassed 442 runs at an average of 63.14 in this tournament. Hence, the big question is will New Zealand play Southee? If they do, Southee vs Kohli will be an intriguing battle.
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
647 runs, five hundreds, an average of 92.42. Rohit Sharma is in the form of his life; he hasn’t put a foot wrong in this World Cup. Game after game, he’s simply getting better. He has been India’s talisman in this World Cup. However, over the years, he has struggled a touch against left-arm pacers who have got the ball to jag back in to him. He has a tendency of getting out bowled or LBW against them.
That said, he has handled the left-arm pacers really well in this World Cup. But he will be up against New Zealand’s pace spearhead Trent Boult. The left-arm fast bowler has been in good form and has picked up 15 wickets in this tournament.
India’s limited-overs vice-captain has been a touch circumspect against Boult too. The Kiwis seamer has dismissed Sharma four times in ODI cricket while conceding 88 runs off 136 balls. Also, more than 66% of Boult’s deliveries to Sharma have been dot balls.
Thus, a fascinating battle awaits us, one that could potentially be a game-changing one.
Kane Williamson vs Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal
Kane Williamson has been New Zealand’s best batsman in this World Cup so far. With 481 runs, no other Kiwi batsman is even close to him as far as stats are concerned. He is quite adept against the spinners too, never afraid to use his feet against them or rock back to shorten up the length.
However, the Indian wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have troubled him in the past. The New Zealand skipper has been dismissed by both these wrist-spinners two times each and overall, he has a strike-rate of 76 against the two of them.
This could make for an attritional battle in the middle overs. However, both Chahal and Yadav have looked a tad off-colour in England so far. While Chahal has bowled decently, picking up 11 wickets, Yadav hasn’t been at his best. He has just six wickets in seven innings.
David Warner vs Chris Woakes
David Warner’s return to international cricket has been a remarkable one. After serving his one-year ban, the former Australian vice-captain is back with a bang. He’s accumulated 638 runs at an average of 79.75 which include three fifties and three hundreds in this World Cup. Thus, Warner has been vital at the top of the order for Australia
However, he doesn’t have a great record against England and moreover, in his last seven ODI innings against them, he’s been able to score just one fifty. One of the reasons has been Chris Woakes’ success against him. The England new-ball bowler might’ve dismissed Warner on just three occasions but he has managed to keep him pretty quiet. Warner averages 21 against Woakes and has a strike-rate of just 67 against him. In fact, 73.40% of the balls from Woakes to Warner have been dot deliveries.
Thus, Warner vs Woakes promises to be a riveting battle upfront.
Jason Roy vs Mitchell Starc
Jason Roy and Mitchell Starc have been key components for their respective sides in this World Cup. England missed Roy badly when he was injured and the opening partnership also struggled. However, since his return, England have also come storming back.
Meanwhile, Starc has topped the bowling charts of yet another World Cup. He wreaked havoc in the 2015 edition and has done the same in this tournament as well. Starc has 25 wickets in 15 games while playing against England. In fact, he was the star in the group game between the two sides.
However, Roy did not play that game and hence, Roy vs Starc could be a mouth-watering contest. Starc has brought the ball back in with the new nut and troubled the England batsmen. Starc has also had the better of Roy four times in ODI cricket. But Roy has played fire with fire when facing Starc. His 137 runs have come at a strike-rate of 126 against Starc.
Thus, this could well be the battle that sets the tone in that second semi-final.