India to eclipse Kiwis in battle of ‘Fire and Ice’, says Satta Singh
Our in-house cricket analyst Satta Singh is back with his fresh inputs about India’s semifinal clash against New Zealand. While he is relishing a heated battle between a ‘fiery’ Virat Kohli and a ‘composed’ Kane Williamson, have a look at his hand-picked favourite players to watch out for at Manchester.
Virat Kohli: Satta Ji’s top-rated player is nearing the 500-run mark in the World Cup this year and has so far been efficient with the bat and on the field as an all-round leader. While today’s semi-final clash is Kohli’s toughest test as a skipper in the tournament, Mr Singh is confident the 30-year-old will build upon his 1302 ODI runs in the book against the Black Caps, as well as end his century hoodoo in this year’s edition.
Kane Williamson: The Kiwi captain has been the ‘playmaker’ for the Black Caps, with Mr Singh pointing out that he accounts for 30.23% of his team’s run in the World Cup this year. A silent player widely regarded for his ability to spark a revival at No.3, Williamson is the major catalyst of New Zealand’s batting prowess in the tournament, but he will surely demand an effective performance from his team rather than just shouldering the pressure alone. If the 28-year-old is dismissed early, the game is then well-placed in India’s hands, says Satta Ji.
Trent Boult: Our cricket expert is quite an admirer of the Kiwi speedster, not only by his devastating form in this World Cup but also by his fine acts of terrorizing opposition batsmen by his ability to swing the ball in both ways. Like in the 2015 edition, Boult is the leading wicket-taker for the Black Caps and has two four-wicket hauls in the competition so far. Having rattled the Indian line-up with a 4/33 in their warm-up game, the pacer will be on the hunt once again and if anything, Mr Singh is concerned about India’s top-order holding ground against the 29-year-old.
Yuzvendra Chahal: The spinner was rested for India’s game against Sri Lanka on Saturday, and could possibly return to the playing XI, reckons Mr Singh. With 11 wickets in the competition, Chahal will look to consolidate his tally of 13 scalps in eight meetings with the Black Caps but might have his task cut out by today’s opposition who scored 144 runs off the 199 balls they faced against spinners. In terms of the venue, Old Trafford has not been kind to leg-spinners, hence Satta Ji advises the Haryana bowler to buck the trend, should he feature in the line-up.
Mohammed Shami: Like Chahal, Shami sat out Saturday’s game to make way for the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Although, considering the forecast and Bhuvneshwar’s failed outing against Sri Lanka, Satta Singh is sure that Virat Kohli will bring back the 29-year-old against New Zealand. The Old Trafford pitch has been dear to Shami, who wreaked havoc for the West Indies setup with a magical spell of 6.2-0-16-4. Going by his record in this World Cup so far, the Uttar Pradesh speedster has been impressive alongside Jasprit Bumrah and our in-house expert foresees a commanding display from Shami against the Black Caps.
Words: William Paul