India will be nervous about facing this New Zealand side: Ross Taylor

Mumbai : Though India are on a nine-match unbeaten streak in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, legendary batter Ross Taylor expects the Rohit Sharma-led side to be nervous in facing New Zealand in the home semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.

Though India entered the semifinal as the only unbeaten side in the competition, they have lost their last four knockout matches, including the 2019 World Cup semifinal, to New Zealand across formats. When they faced off earlier in the 2023 World Cup at Dharamshala, India won by four wickets.

“Four years ago, India went into the semifinal 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,” wrote Taylor in his column for ICC.

Taylor also noted that Mumbai is usually a ground where one can expect big scores, but added that the big test for New Zealand will be in adapting to the conditions, as well as in tackling the Indian team in the first ten overs with bat and ball.

“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. The first ten overs in both innings are crucial. When India are 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 are bowling, it is similar,” he said.

“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.”

For New Zealand, Rachin Ravindra has been mighty impressive for Taylor as a top-order batter in Indian conditions, amassing 565 runs in nine matches, averaging 70.62 at a strike-rate of 108.44, including hitting three centuries and two fifties.

“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 his 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 the future of 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. Hopefully, the luck is with New Zealand on Wednesday.”







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