India v New Zealand: Cricket World Cup semi-final – live | Cricket World Cup 2023
“Well, change of pitch controversy they say,” writes Sreekanth Nandakumar. “I’m really confused on what advantage the Indians get. Was it a fast pitch, oh yeah? Bumrah, Shami and Siraj will destroy you. Is it a spinners’ paradise? Kuldeep and Jadeja will get you. It sounds like someone is trying to create a mountain out of a molehill and doing a bad job at that.”
No, that’s not right. Lawrence Booth is a class act, the editor of Wisden and as scrupulous as any journalist I have ever met. The story may amount to nothing, but Booth is not some clickbait clown. If, and it’s a big if, there has been sharp practice and the ICC are too terrified to do anything about it, then what’s the point of a World Cup? We agree on one thing: India are so good that there’s no need for them to manipulate the pitches.
“As a Black Caps supporter, I’m caught in two minds about today’s match,” says Liam Wallace. “On the one hand it would be fantastic for this side to eke out another victory against the odds. Also, it would be just a little bit funny if India were knocked out after being clearly the superior team at this World Cup.
“But I find the Indian side to be quite likeable and it’s hard to imagine the pressure they must be under from their fans who (understandably) expect that they will win the tournament. It would be quite a shame if they were to lose, especially as the backlash is unlikely to be proportional to their overall performance at this World Cup.”
Both teams are unchanged. Next!
India Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
New Zealand Conway, Ravindra, Williamson (c), Mitchell, Latham (wk), Phillips, Chapman, Santner, Southee, Ferguson, Boult.
“Looks like a good pitch, looks on the slower side,” says Rohit Sharma. “We understand that, whatever we do, we have to do it well.”
Kane Williamson says he would have batted as well.
Barney Ronay’s preview
What to do at the toss
Rohit Sharma says it doesn’t matter, and India’s record this year backs him up: 12 wins and two defeats batting first, 12 wins and three defeats batting second. But the new balls have done plenty under the lights on this ground throughout the World Cup, so the template for New Zealand is offensively obvious: bat first, post a par score and then run through India’s top order in the first 10 overs. Just like they did in the 2019 semi-final.
The pitch switch complicates things a little, not least because there will now be a short boundary on one side. But it still feels like a bat-first day.
The first controversy of the day
Our old friend Lawrence Booth reports that, which should aid India’s superior spinners, apparently to the dissatisfaction of the ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson.
If true – and I really can’t stress the word ‘if’ enough, because ultimately we don’t know – it’s dispiriting and unacceptable. It would also be a bit weird: India are so good that there really is no need for them to manipulate anything, except maybe the seam.
It’s worth stressing that last year’s T20 semi-finals were played on used pitches, so this might be something about nothing. It all depends on who made the decision to change pitches at the last minute, and why.
Hello and welcome to live, over-by-over coverage of the World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand in Mumbai. In a sense this is the first game of India’s World Cup campaign. They were always going to breeze through the group stages – even if few expected them to do so in such awesome fashion – and it was always going to come down to this: two knockout games in which they will either affirm their superiority or extend their trophy drought.
India won nine out of nine in the league stage, pulverising almost every opponent and playing some of the most irresistible ODI cricket ever seen. It’s pretty simple: if they maintain that standard, they will won the World Cup.
Few people give New Zealand a prayer today, even though they are the team who ran India closest in the league stage. But this might be where things get interesting. For the first time in the tournament defeat is unthinkable for India, and that can do funny things to the old thought process.
There are echoes of the 2019 World Cup, when India were big favourites to beat New Zealand in the semi-final and lost a thriller by 18 runs. That’s one of eight defeats in their last 10 knockout games at ICC tournaments, many through cautious or nervous batting. The only two victories came against Bangladesh. South Africa were called chokers for less in the 1990s.
The 2013 Champions Trophy was India’s last major triumph. But 10 years of (relative) failure feel less significant than 10 months of spectacular form: India have won 24 of their 29 ODIs this year. They do have weaknesses – no sixth bowler, a long tail – but the specialists have done their jobs so magnificently that nobody has been able to expose them.
India look nigh-on unbeatable. But New Zealand, serial achievers who are about to play a record ninth World Cup semi-final, know from experience that there is no such thing.
The match starts at 8.30am GMT, 2pm in Mumbai.