India vs New Zealand semifinal, World Cup 2019: Kohli and Co.'s action plan for semifinal glory against the Kiwis

The form of Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul up top followed by M.S. Dhoni's ability to absorb pressure will be key to India's chances in the World Cup 2019 semifinal against New Zealand.

Virat Kohli and M.S. Dhoni will be crucial to Team India's chances in the World Cup 2019 semifinal against New Zealand.   -  getty images

1. Win the toss and bat

Of the 41 completed games in World Cup 2019, 27 have been won by teams batting first. Given the current form of India's top-three, India's captain Virat Kohli wouldn't mind asking his men to put up a challenging score on the board before unleashing his bowlers. The scorching summer has had a bearing on the pitches, but the fickle English weather has shown many shades. Rain is forecast for Manchester on Tuesday, and that too could play a part in what the team winning the toss decides to do. 

2. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have a good outing

K.L. Rahul has etched scores of 57, 30, 48, 0, 77, 111 against Pakistan, Afghanistan, the West Indies, England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively in the current World Cup while Rohit Sharma has been in rampaging form, racking up five hundreds already. India will once again pin its hopes on the opening duo.

3. Middle-order comes to the party

Rohit, Rahul and Kohli have scored the bulk of the runs and it is time for the middle-order to flex its muscle. Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant did reasonably well and the stage is set for Dinesh Karthik to step up. Also, it is never beyond M.S. Dhoni to shine, especially when the going is tough. 

4. Back Dhoni to anchor the middle-order

Dhoni has to bring his wealth of experience to the game. Perhaps he will turn the clock back as a batsman. Dhoni is still vital to the squad and he dished out a searing cameo (a 14-ball 27) against Australia and a measured 34 off 46 deliveries in the opening joust involving South Africa. Kohli and Co. will be hoping for more of the same.

5. Run amok in the final overs

Pandya and Pant could help the team to a commanding total by launching those mighty hoicks in the final 10 overs. Despite the base set by the likes of Rohit and Kohli, India's batting might has shown signs of fizzling out toward the end of the innings.

6. Unleash Bumrah in shorter bursts

In the early games, Bumrah bowled short and was vulnerable to the cut and pull. But as the campaign progressed, his incisive spells returned. Bumrah's 17 wickets at an astounding economy rate of 4.48 are a testament to the value he brings to the team, both with the new and the old ball. Against Bangladesh, when Mohammad Saifuddin and Sabbir Rahman were threatening to take the match away from India, he broke the stand by cleaning up Rahman before claiming three more to finish on four for 55 from his 10.

7. Shami at the death

Shami, despite his odd expensive spells against England and Bangladesh, has been Kohli's go-to man with the new ball. Bhuvaneswar Kumar is back in the mix after a hamstring niggle and the team composition will depend on the weather condition on match day. Shami, bowling with intent and pace, has already bagged a hat-trick. Kings XI head coach, Mike Hesson, who has worked closely with Shami during the IPL, reckons the 28-year-old could use more variations in the death overs to be effective.

8. Kuldeep and Chahal need to rediscover their mojo

Kuldeep and Chahal, India’s wrist spin duo, were hammered for 160 runs in their combined 20 overs against England, with Chahal’s 0/88 in 10 overs being the worst figures by an Indian bowler in the World Cup. Kuldeep was dropped for the next match against Bangladesh, while Chahal was taken for runs, again. It's absolutely crucial that the two spinners find their rhythm ahead of the all-important knockout game.

9. Leading from the front

Captain Virat Kohli has 442 runs in the tournament so far, and has struck five consecutive half-centuries. He also became the fastest to score 11,000 runs in ODIs as well as fastest to 20,000 international runs. However, the flamboyant right-hander is yet to convert his starts into a big hundred. Indian fans are convinced he is due for big ones and what better stage than the business end.

10. Rub of the green

Those inside edges early in the innings, the half-chances and the close run-outs. Good teams create their own luck, but some of it coming their way without trying is always welcome.