Men’s ODI WC: SWOT Analysis of India and New Zealand ahead of their semifinal clash

India and New Zealand meet in the first semifinal of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 here on Wednesday with a place in the final of the event on the line.

As the teams gear up for the big match, which is a repeat of their clash in the semifinal stage in 2019 at Manchester. The Black Caps defeated India four years back to reach the final of the mega event.

On the eve of their biggest clash in 50-overs cricket in recent history, here’s a SWOT analysis of both India and New Zealand teams:

Men’s ODI WC: SWOT Analysis of India and New Zealand ahead of their semifinal clash

INDIA

Winners of the title in 1983 and 2011, India are firm favourites on current form as they return to the venue in which they scripted a memorable triumph against Sri Lanka in the 2011 final.

Strengths

The well-balanced side at the disposal of skipper Rohit Sharma is in top form and has won a record nine games in a row to make it to the knockout round as the first-ranked team in the points table. Their batters are in great form — especially Virat Kohli (594), skipper Rohit Sharma (503 runs), Shreyas Iyer (421) and K.L Rahul (347).

The Indian bowlers have been a revelation. Despite losing pace-bowling allrounder Hardik Pandya early in the tournament, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah (17), Mohammad Shami (16), Ravindra Jadeja (16), Kuldeep Yadav (14) and Mohammad Siraj (12) have kept India on top in all their matches. Playing at home, and their fortress Wankhede Stadium too is an advantage for the semifinals.

Weaknesses

There are underlying weaknesses in the Indian side. Though Rohit Sharma has made aggressive starts, Shubman Gill has performed in patches. Kohli is the highest scorer for India, Shreyas and Rahul have done well too. But things get a bit dicey after that, Jadeja has stood tall on a couple of occasions, and Suryakumar Yadav has not been able to perform consistently, though he has struck a crucial half-century. Hardik Pandya’s absence could be felt against a strong bowling unit. Though the team has done well so far, the middle-order batting is still a matter of concern as a collective off-day for 2-3 out of the top four will leave the team totally exposed.

The team is also under tremendous pressure as everyone wants them to win the World Cup. The team is also a bit travel-weary as the hosts played nine matches at nine different venues. Though there was ample gap between the matches, constant travel does take a toll on both the body and mind.

Opportunities

The team is in a great position to go all the way to the title. What will also give them comfort is the fact that the hosts have won the title in the last three editions of the 50-over World Cup — India won at the Wankhede in 2011, co-host Australia defeated New Zealand in the 2015 final while co-host England overcame New Zealand in the 2019 final on boundary countback. Considering their form, their mastery of the home conditions and the bruised, depleted and injury-ravaged condition of opponents New Zealand, this is a great opportunity for Rohit Sharma’s team to break the World Cup knockout jinx.

Only two countries — West Indies and Australia — have gone unbeaten in winning the 50-over World Cup. India too can do it if they manage to bring their A-game to the table two more times in this World Cup.

Threats

The jinx against New Zealand in the knockout stage is the biggest threat for hosts India. Though India had managed to beat New Zealand in a World Cup match for the first time since 2003 at Dharamsala a few weeks back, the defeat to the Black Caps in the 2019 semifinal still rankles.

But as Lockie Ferguson said in a PC on Monday, the teams are vastly different from the 2019 matchup and therefore the team that does well on that given day will win the match.

The Indians will also have to guard against the law of averages, having remained unbeaten in nine matches, they can’t be complacent and arrogate themselves into thinking they are unbeatable. There are things against which they have to be on their guard. They need to put in their best performance once again otherwise their hopes will go up in smoke.

NEW ZEALAND

Semifinalists in five successive ICC Men’s ODI World Cups, New Zealand are unfortunately still searching for their maiden title.

Strengths

When it comes to the ICC events, New Zealand have always punched above their weight. They have reached the semifinals in nine out of the previous 13 editions of the men’s 50-over World Cups. Their bits and pieces players bring a lot of skills to the field and prove a threat to any team.

In batting, Rachin Ravindra has been a great success, raking up 565 runs at a superb average of 70.62. Daryl Mitchell has provided the impetus in the middle-order and amassed 418 runs while opener Devon Conway has shone in patches and raised 359 runs so far. Spinner Mitchell Santner has been their best bowler so far, claiming 16 wickets while Trent Boult has claimed 13. Tim Southee’s return to full fitness is the three-pronged pace attack a big gain though the loss of Matt Henry to injury has left the bowling unit depleted.

Weaknesses

The team is imbalanced because of Henry’s injury and lacks a proper fifth bowler. Injuries have also impacted the batting unit with skipper Kane Williamson had battled back to fitness while so had Tim Southee. Batting is a main concern as apart from Rachin , Mitchell and Conway, the rest have not contributed much.

Losing a few early wickets, especially on a Wankhede pitch that offers some early juice, could land them in serious trouble as the middle order, barring Daryl Mitchell, has not been able to shoulder the responsibility. They have conceded some big scores — 357 against South Africa and 388 against Australia. However, things seemed to have come together in the match against Pakistan when they scored 401/6 before DLS halted them.

Opportunities

New Zealand are seeking their maiden World Cup title after finishing runner-up in the last two editions. They have a good chance against India as history is on their side — they have won five out of eight times the two teams have met in the World Cups. If Rachin Ravindra and Conway get going at the top and Mitchell provides the thrust in the middle order, the Black Caps could put the Indian bowling to the sword. Skipper Kane Williamson is due a big one since recovering from injury and the semifinal is as good an opportunity as any.

Threats

Without Matt Henry, their bowling does not look as potent as earlier. Though Tim Southee is getting up to speed and Santner is in top form, the lack of a proper fifth bowler leaves them depending on Glenn Phillips and Ravindra for 10 overs, which is as risky as it comes.

The World Cup has been a see-saw ride for the 2019 runner-up as they started with a bang by winning their first four matches. They then went off the boil and lost their next four games, starting with the four-wicket defeat to India at Dharamsala, and barely managed to make it to the semis as the last team by beating Sri Lanka while England ended Pakistan’s hopes.

But do the Black Caps have enough in them to turn their fortunes around and their third successive World Cup final?

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