New Delhi, November 15: Former captain Ross Taylor feels that New Zealand has a slight edge over India in the Cricket World Cup Semi-finals as the Kiwis have nothing to lose while the hosts will be under pressure before their huge home support inside an outside the stadium.
He was of the view that the first ten overs in both innings are crucial. When India is batting, you want to get them two or three down in the first ten overs to put them under pressure. They rely heavily on an excellent top three.
There is Shubman Gill, the number one player in the world, and then Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. We need to try to make inroads and put the middle order under pressure. If you can do that, it stifles them and affects how early they can assert their dominance.
Then when India is bowling, it is similar. You want to score runs but it is also vital we keep wickets in hand against weapons like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. When they get on a roll, they can be a lethal force, and the spinners can really pile on the pressure. If you keep wickets in hand, that is when it becomes a bit easier, rather than having to chase the game.
About his team, Taylor mentioned that "it will be a big day for Rachin Ravindra. When you have a guy who is named after a combination of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, it is special to play India in India in a World Cup semi-final. We needed someone to score heavily in the tournament.
I am not sure many people would have expected it to be Rachin but I have been really impressed, not only by the runs he has scored but also the way he has gone about it, his tempo and calmness. He is just going out there and batting like he did as a little kid. He has not put any pressure on himself and I hope he continues to do that.
"He has a big part to play in the semi-final and in the future for New Zealand. It is funny to think that if Michael Bracewell had made it to the World Cup, Rachin probably would not have made it. Luck has probably played a part, but we all need that.
About the venue, Taylor said "Mumbai is usually a ground where you can expect big scores, but the big test for New Zealand will be dealing with the conditions. The toss is important but if New Zealand can start well with bat and ball, that will give them a lot of confidence to stay in the fight.
He pointed out that as teams prepare to take on each other it is impossible not to look back at the parallels with 2019.
"Four years ago, India went into the semi-final in Manchester as the form side in the tournament, while we were more focused on ensuring our net run-rate would keep Pakistan out of reach for the final spot in the top four."
"This time around, India are even bigger favourites, at home and having played so well during the group stage. But when we have nothing to lose, New Zealand teams can be dangerous. If there is a team that India will be nervous facing, it will be this New Zealand side.
"We’re up against it, of course, but that was also the case in 2019. That was a two-day one-day game! It was a strange situation for me, I was not out overnight. That is nerve-wracking enough in Test cricket, let alone a one-dayer and a World Cup semi-final.
He recalled that "At Old Trafford, I’d say the crowd was probably about 80% Indian, with a sprinkling of New Zealand friends and family and then some English. We had to back ourselves in that game. South Africa had just scored 300 there so most commentators thought we were crazy because we were scoring pretty slowly, but Kane Williamson and myself were confident that 240-250 would be a competitive total. That is what we ended up on, and then Matt Henry and Trent Boult got us some early wickets, which we knew would be crucial.
"The other thing I remember from the game is Martin Guptill’s run-out of MS Dhoni. Obviously, everyone remembers the run-out of Guptill in the final, but that one in the semi-final gets a lot of air time in New Zealand as well. I was also on the end of a run-out in that game. Ravindra Jadeja got me from the boundary, I was sure I would be ok but he got a direct hit. He really is a freak and I am sure he will be crucial again this time." he said.