Leading India and New Zealand will face off at the “pointy end” of the World Cup.

Leading India and New Zealand will face off at the "pointy end" of the World Cup.
Leading India and New Zealand will face off at the “pointy end” of the World Cup.

Although India is the best team in the World Cup, head coach Rahul Dravid has issued a warning, saying that tomorrow’s Mumbai semi-final against New Zealand is the “pointy end in a tournament.”

After defeating the Netherlands by 160 runs on Sunday, India became the first team to finish with a perfect played nine, won nine record in a round-robin World Cup.

With star batsman Virat Kohli leading the tournament with 594 runs and captain Rohit Sharma not far behind with 503, India is well-stocked in every area.

The experienced duo have scored three hundreds between them, while the likes of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul both appear to be coming into form at the right time following their centuries against the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, India boast a formidable fast-bowling line-up in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohamed Siraj and Mohamed Shami.

If successful teams are fortunate as well as good, then India certainly had a lucky break when an injury to all-rounder Hardik Pandya paved the way for Shami’s return, with the experienced seamer having since taken 16 wickets in five matches at a stunningly low average of under 10.

In addition spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav are also capable of taking wickets without being flogged for runs.

And yet the fact remains India have been waiting since a 2011 triumph over Sri Lanka in Mumbai to win a third World Cup title, while their last major piece of silverware was the 2013 Champions Trophy.

Four years ago, New Zealand defeated India by just 18 runs in a rain-affected World Cup semi-final in Manchester that spanned two days, with the Black Caps also beating India in the inaugural 2021 World Test Championship final.

Five of the India side who featured in the 2019 semi-final – Rohit, Kohli, Rahul, Bumrah and Jadeja – are set to be involved again tomorrow. “You’re at a pointy end in a tournament now,” said Dravid.

READ MORE:Which past champions won’t be competing for the 2025 Champions Trophy?

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“There is going to be certain amount of pressure but I think the way we have responded to the pressure so far gives us a lot of belief.”

Dravid’s argument is supported by the manner of India’s four-wicket win against New Zealand in the group stage at Dharamsala last month.

Despite Daryl Mitchell’s 130, India held New Zealand to 273, with Shami taking 5-54 before Kohli made 95 and Jadeja, demonstrating his big-match temperament, a valuable 39 not out.

Tomorrow’s match takes place at Rohit’s Wankhede Stadium home ground, where India bowled out Sri Lanka for just 55 to win by 302 runs in the group stage, with the aggressive 36-year-old opener leading from the front at what could be his last World Cup.

“Rohit has certainly been a leader, without a doubt,” said India batting great Dravid.

“He’s cracked open games for us. We’ve talked about playing in a particular way. You cannot do that unless your leader really buys in and actually shows by example.”

New Zealand, in contrast to India, are in the semi-finals despite losing four of their nine group games.

But they now have a clean slate, with captain and key batsman Kane Williamson, following an injury-plagued tournament, returning to form with 95 on his comeback against Pakistan.

A proven pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson are capable of succeeding against even the strongest batting line-up, with miserly left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (16 wickets at under 25) an often under-rated threat.

New Zealand, who have finished second in the last two World Cups, also has a young left-hander named Rachin Ravindra, who is only 23 years old and has already amassed 565 runs.

Born into Indian parents, Ravindra is the first player from New Zealand to score three hundreds in a single World Cup.

He scored a century against England in the tournament’s opening match, and then added three figures against Australia and Pakistan.

“You imagine yourself playing in the Wankhede, a venue steeped in history, with a packed house against India,” Ravindra remarked.

“We’ll do our best and stay level. We’re aware that we can’t win every cricket match, but we’ll watch how it goes.

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