IND vs NZ semifinal: History behind New Zealand, 140 crore behind 11 guys; India look to break the Kiwi jinx


IND vs NZ World Cup 2023
Image Source : GETTY Indian Cricket team players.

IND vs NZ semifinal: Two steps remain in achieving the greatest glory in the beautiful sport of cricket. Four teams are gunning and are looking to give it their all in what could surely be a generation-defining moment for their cricket. India, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia – the four proud semifinalists have an eye on each other and the other on the coveted prize. 

Rohit Sharma’s India will take on their bogey team New Zealand in the first semifinal at a venue where they have mixed sort of memories – The Wankhede in Mumbai. History is behind the Kiwis, but 140 crore Indians would be rooting for those 11 men stepping onto the 22 yards with dreams on the line. A sport-loving nation will dive deep into emotions of patriotism and hope for a result that has eluded them many times. 

These two sides have endured contrasting campaigns in World Cup 2023 with the Indians being unbeaten and the Kiwis finding just enough to go through the next stage. One can argue that the Blackcaps have beaten lower-ranked teams but they were similar in the 2019 tournament too where they lost to upper-ranked Australia and England in group stage. While India possess individual champions who are working absolutely brilliantly in teamwork too, New Zealand always uses the synergic effect at its best. 

There are no individual icons in the Kiwis’ side but the work they put together with defined roles make them the tough opponent that they are. Captain Rohit Sharma also knows how New Zealand go about their business. “New Zealand (are) probably (the) most disciplined team. They play smart cricket, they understand the opposition very well. They understand the mentality of the opposition. They have been very consistent playing semis and finals of all ICC tournaments,” the Indian captain said on the eve of the game. 

But he is surely proud of the way his team has played and knows that fortune favours the brave. “Time has come for luck to favour you and fortune favours the brave. We are focusing on playing good cricket in the next two games. Pressure is always there on us as Indian cricketers. The need is to focus on the game and not on the pressure and challenges from the other side,” Sharma added to the press.

India have not beaten New Zealand in the three knockout matches played between these two. They have gone down in the 2000 ICC Knockout Final (Champions Trophy), the 2019 World Cup semifinal and the 2021 World Test Championship final. The 2019 defeat is afresh in the minds of crores of Indians and the look of MS Dhoni after that run-out is dismal to them. However, another historical fact subsides here. New Zealand are the team to reach five consecutive World Cup semifinals but they have been knocked out by one of the hosts in the last three World Cups – Sri Lanka in the 2011 semifinal, Australia in the 2015 final and England in the 2019 final.

If the ICC knockout stats between India and New Zealand favour the latter party, the Kiwis’ run in the previous three tournaments has been stopped by a host and India, the host, are in red-hot form too. The stats go yesterday when the game begins. It then becomes the contest of just the bat and the ball but New Zealand fans would be banking on history against India to keep them alive, while 140 crore will look to put the Blackcaps out of the tournament.

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