CWC 2023: With all boxes ticked, will Team India be able to break knockout jinx against New Zealand? New Zealand have beaten India in their last 4 knockout matches across formats.
The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 league stages have concluded, delivering a spectacle of high-voltage matches and dramatic moments. India, the hosts, have emerged as the undisputed leaders in the league, boasting an impeccable record of nine wins in as many matches. As the knockout stages loom, the question that echoes is whether India can navigate the challenges and seize the coveted title this time around.
India's journey to the semi-finals was not just anticipated but also a significant accomplishment, clinching the top spot in the group table. Their flawless record, marked by a resounding victory against the Netherlands on Diwali Sunday, surpasses their previous World Cup performances. Despite their triumphs in 1983 and 2011, they had never managed to win all nine matches in a single edition.
In addition to their unbeaten streak, India achieved another milestone by securing their first 400+ score in the 2023 World Cup. While other teams had breached the 350-run mark multiple times, India now proudly stands among the select few to surpass the coveted 400-run milestone twice in this edition.
Solid Batting Performance from India
India's batting lineup emerges as an indomitable force in the ongoing tournament, with exceptional performances across all positions. Captain Rohit Sharma, leading from the front, has amassed 503 runs in the league matches at a remarkable strike rate of 121.49. Young talent Shubhman Gill, making his World Cup debut, has complemented the captain well, although fans eagerly await a standout performance from the 'Prince of Indian cricket,' Virat Kohli.
Kohli, a stalwart in ICC tournaments, reaffirmed his batting prowess by accumulating an impressive 594 runs during the league stages, standing as the highest run-scorer in the tournament. The middle order, including KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Surya Kumar Yadav, has consistently delivered. Rahul's contribution of 347 runs, Iyer's notable 421 runs, and Yadav's promising performances add depth to India's formidable batting arsenal.
Stellar Bowling from India Bowlers
Contrary to India's traditional reputation for batting supremacy, this World Cup has witnessed a paradigm shift, with the bowlers assuming a leading role. The five-bowler ensemble, each claiming over 10 wickets in the league stages, has showcased exceptional consistency. The pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammad Siraj has dazzled with seam and swing, while the spin duo of Jadeja and Kuldeep has dominated the middle overs.
While these statistics may take a backseat in the do-or-die knockout matches, their significance cannot be undervalued. Securing nine victories out of nine matches instils a distinctive level of confidence as India enters the semi-final stage.
Semi-finals: India vs New Zealand
The upcoming semi-final against New Zealand promises a compelling showdown, steeped in the intensity of past clashes. The return of New Zealand's captain, Kane Williamson, adds a new dimension to the contest. In their earlier group stage encounter, India secured a 4-wicket victory against a Williamson-less New Zealand. However, the Kiwis, with their captain back in the playing XI, present a formidable challenge, potentially threatening India's aspiration for a spot in the World Cup final.
As India aims to break the ICC trophy drought of the last decade, the current team's exceptional form and camaraderie instil hope for a triumphant Diwali. The anticipation among Indian cricket enthusiasts is palpable, with dreams of the resounding commentary, "India lifts the trophy after 10 years," echoing in celebration of a long-awaited triumph.