Cricket World Cup: Quartet renew hostilities in electrifying semifinals
The 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup drew curtains on a highly competitive group stage schedule on Saturday, with pre-tournament favourites India finishing on top of the points table. With the penultimate stage set to begin on Tuesday, we give you an insight into the mouth-watering semi-final fixtures in the pipeline.
Following the Bangladesh-Pakistan fixture, New Zealand claimed the final spot of the World Cup semi-finals which already included the likes of India, Australia, and England. The matchups of the penultimate round, though, were confirmed after the conclusion of Australia’s meeting with South Africa. Given the games reek of entertainment and quality cricket, here’s a brief overview of the high-profile clashes this midweek.
Semifinal 1: India vs New Zealand
Virat Kohli’s Men in Blue wrapped up their group stage commitments with a comfortable victory against Sri Lanka at Leeds and moved to the summit of the group table. The Indian unit was impressive in every department against the Lankans, and Kohli is confident of a similar act against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand. The Kiwis, alongside India, were unbeaten in the opening rounds of the World Cup but later stumbled on the road as they enter the semi-final with three successive defeats. Rohit Sharma, fresh from his fifth World Cup ton, and speedster Jasprit Bumrah will be the trump cards for Kohli and Co. against the Black Caps, who are a tricky opponent despite their current rough patch. Captain Williamson has been standout with the bat while Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult feature in the top-10 of the bowling charts. With their earlier scheduled meeting being washed out, both sides will hope their battle for a spot in Sunday’s Final isn’t interrupted by rains, once again.
Semifinal 2: Australia vs England
World champions Australia were seemingly confident of avoiding meeting fierce rivals England in the semi-finals, but their 10-run defeat to South Africa on Saturday confirmed the battle between the ‘Ashes’ teams for the second time in the competition. David Warner, with 638 runs so far, has certainly made up for his one-year absence from the sport. Mitchell Starc, with 26 wickets from nine games, has once again proved why he is one of the greatest bowlers of his generation. The Aussies, with 82 wins in 148 ODIs, lead the head-to-head record against England but Aaron Finch will hope to lead Australia to their first win at Edgbaston since 2001. Eoin Morgan’s Three Lions, meanwhile, secured their first semifinal berth since 1992 after back-to-back wins over India and New Zealand. The batting setup, led by Joe Root, have recorded six 300-plus scores in their nine group stage games, while debutant Jofra Archer has been the leader of the bowling attack. Having lost their earlier meeting in the tournament, the hosts will look to make amends and end the Australian’s undefeated status in World Cup semifinals.
Words: William Paul