Sunil Gavaskar column: The key battle could well be in the middle overs today

In Indian conditions, the Kiwi bowlers may not pose the same threat as they did in England four years ago

By Sunil Gavaskar

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India's number four batter Shreyas Iyer is in tremendous form. — AP
India's number four batter Shreyas Iyer is in tremendous form. — AP

Published: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 7:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 10:26 AM

There is no doubt that the four best sides are in the semifinals. If one has a look at the points, then one will see that there is a fair distance between the top four and the rest.

In fact, by the penultimate day of the group stage, the semifinalists were decided, which is an indication that they were way above the rest.

In 2019, India played New Zealand over two days in England but in conditions that were like back home for the Kiwis.

Rohit Sharma at the opening position and Virat Kohli at one drop had batted splendidly through that event, which meant that the number four batter and there were a few tried by then, had only to go and swing his bat.

In the semifinals with the ball swinging and seaming like crazy, the Kiwi bowlers scythed through the openers and also got Kohli cheaply, leaving the number four batter to try and hold the fort and score as well.

With little experience in doing so, it was a disaster waiting to happen and that's exactly what transpired.

This time around India’s number four batter Shreyas Iyer is in tremendous form and in Indian conditions the Kiwi bowlers may not pose the same threat as they did in England.

The Wankhede Stadium pitch does help the ball to go through a lot quicker in the evening so it would be interesting to see what the captains decide after winning the toss.

In a knockout game scoreboard pressure can be telling, so with both teams having tremendous fast bowlers it won't be a surprise to see teams opting to bat first.

For the Kiwis, the form of Devon Conway is a bit of a worry though it’s balanced out nicely by the touch and power shown by Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell.

The key battle could well be in the middle overs with New Zealand's Mitchell Santner bowling with great guile and loop and for India, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja combining brilliantly to not only choke the runs but also take wickets.

India have played superbly all round to win all the group matches but they know that the Kiwis are ready for battle too. (Professional Management Group)


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