Aakash Chopra reckons the current New Zealand side is not as formidable as the Black Caps that used to trouble India in past World Cups and ICC events. The Men in Blue will lock horns with the Black Caps in the first semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 at the historic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 15. The two-time World Champions would be looking forward to avenging their loss from the 2019 edition of the tournament. New Zealand defeated India in the semi-finals when they clashed in the 2019 World Cup.
Aakash Chopra said that New Zealand has been a stumbling block for India and they have always troubled India in ICC events. However, he was of the opinion that they are not likely to trouble Rohit Sharma and company this time around, reasoning, “The semi-final line-up is ready now. India is going to play New Zealand, and New Zealand has slightly been a bogey team for us. They trouble us a lot but thankfully we have broken that jinx.”
The former Indian opener added, “This New Zealand is not looking like the same team that used to trouble us because the bowling is looking weak. They generally don’t have a bowling like this. They bowl better than this.”
Mitchell Santner, with 16 scalps to his name, is New Zealand’s highest wicket-taker in the 2023 World Cup. Trent Boult and Matt Henry are their other successful bowlers with 13 and 11 wickets respectively. However, Matt Henry has been ruled out of the tournament due to a torn right hamstring.
Aakash Chopra Points Out New Zealand’s Weakness
Aakash Chopra doesn’t see the Kiwis as a big threat as he highlighted Trent Boult’s ineffectiveness this time around. He elaborated, “Although Trent Boult picked up wickets in the last match, he had not been great in the entire tournament before that. Even if they play Tim Southee, not the same bowler. Lockie Ferguson is very decent but then Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra or Daryl Mitchell.”
Aakash Chopra acknowledged that the conditions in Mumbai might favor New Zealand’s cause given the swing it provides early on in the innings. However, he added that they are up against a formidable Indian unit, saying, “There is no doubt that they know how to trouble others but will they be able to do that? I don’t know. It will be a good match. It will be at the Wankhede, the conditions might suit them, but India is a phenomenal team.”
India defeated New Zealand in an ICC event after 20 years when they faced the Black Caps in the league match. They won the match by four wickets in their league-stage clash in Dharamsala. However, the Indian batters were kept in check by Mitchell Santner in the middle overs. India could consider promoting Ravindra Jadeja a bit further up the order to tackle Santner’s threat.
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