World Cup 2019 semifinal: What India needs to do against New Zealand's key players

Here are the key battles that could decide the World Cup 2019 semifinal between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday.

Trent Boult removed Rohit Sharma cheaply in the World Cup 2019 practice match. The Indian opener has been on a run scoring spree since, racking up a record-breaking five centuries. The battle between Rohit and Boult could very well decide which way the match swings on Tuesday.   -  getty images

Match-ups are a big part of teams' strategies these days. In World Cup 2019, we have seen Imran Tahir bowl the first over for South Africa in the first match and prise out Jonny Bairstow.

Midway through the tournament, Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman comprehensively bowled Rohit Sharma with a ripping leg-spinner, also with the new ball, early in the innings.

The rationale behind Tahir being given the first over by Faf du Plessis was Jason Roy tends to struggle against the ball turning away. As it turned out, Roy's partner, Bairstow, who's normally at ease against spin, outside-edged a ball that drew him forward and spun enough to have him caught behind.

Rohit is another batsman who has struggled against leg-spin. So, while you see Mujeeb regularly bowl with the new ball for Afghanistan, Gulbadin Naib had extra reason to deploy his young spinner early that day.

The first semifinal between India and New Zealand has quite a few match-ups that could prove decisive. Here, Sportstar looks at some of those player battles.

Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult

Rohit Sharma has been in rampaging form in the ongoing World Cup 2019.   -  getty images


The league match between India and New Zealand was washed out due to rain, but one of their two warm-ups was against each other. And in that match, Boult trapped Rohit lbw with a ball that straightened after pitching - it was an all too familiar type of dismissal for the Indian opener.

Rohit handled the left-arm angle of Mitchell Starc and Mohammad Amir from round the wicket with greater poise when India played Australia and Pakistan. He ensured that his front pad didn't get across but stayed beside the line of the ball to allow the bat to access the ball and negate the risk of being lbw. And against Boult, he must watch out for the inswinger, of course, but the ball that angles away from middle and leg will be just as menacing.

Martin Guptill vs Mohammed Shami

Shami troubled Guptill in the ODI series in New Zealand earlier this year.   -  getty images


New Zealand was poor with and against the new ball in its final league match against England. These two phases in the match proved pivotal. Roy and Bairstow attacked Trent Boult and Co. and wrest the initiative early and, set a target of 306, Henry Nicholls and Guptill fell early and cheaply.

In the semifinal, New Zealand must start well with the bat and with the ball to put India under pressure, and Guptill will be key to its game-plan.

Shami, who will probably return to the playing XI, troubled Guptill in the ODI series in New Zealand earlier this year. In the first ODI of the series, the ball nipping back in off the pitch castled the New Zealand opener, who must watch out for the ball that pitches on fourth stump and moves in sharply.

Shami's immaculate seam position helps him move the ball both ways off the pitch, making him a serious threat to Guptill, who is not comfortable when he is drawn onto the front foot.

Kane Williamson vs Yuzvendra Chahal

Few batsmen from outside the sub-continent play spin as efficiently as Williamson does.   -  getty images


Few batsmen from outside the sub-continent play spin as efficiently as Williamson does. The New Zealand captain's exemplary footwork is the reason why he's dominant against wristspin and fingerspin: when he has to get forward, he is right to the pitch of the ball with a big stride, but he also gets deep in his crease when playing off the backfoot, allowing him to create angles to manoeuvre the ball.

Against India, he could come up against Yuzvendra Chahal, who was rested for the fixture against Sri Lanka but might return to the playing XI. The Haryana leg-break bowler bowled the most expensive spell by an Indian in the World Cup - he went for 88 runs - against England, but regathered himself against Bangladesh at the same venue (Edgbaston, Birmingham).

Chahal has flighted the ball and bowled at a slower pace at this World Cup. Bairstow and Roy, in particular, feasted on Chahal generously giving the ball air, but it was the same tactic that brought him wickets against South Africa, Australia and the West Indies earlier in the tournament.

Chahal's length and trajectory against a batsman who is good off the front and backfoot have to be precise. Taking Williamson's wicket early is critical to India's chances of winning and that means Chahal becomes a key bowler.

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