The Boult v Bumrah subplot in overcast Nottingham
Well, we won’t be seeing a repeat of that warm-up game. For one, the weather’s being a pest. The UK Met Office predicts at least 50% chance of rain in Nottingham on Thursday.
But just for a moment, let’s dare to dream. We know Trent Bridge no longer entertains outlandish notions like an even contest between bat and ball. So maybe it’s a good thing that the forecast is for grey skies. It’ll add even more spectacle to what Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah can already do. This World Cup has offered some tasty cricket, especially when conditions are tilted in favour of the bowlers. And both these teams have batsmen capable of standing up to such a test.
India’s top order has been an immense strength for them but it’s been in a bit of flux heading into this game with Shikhar Dhawan injured and KL Rahul expected to take his place.
That’s no big advantage to New Zealand because their opening partnership has been among the least productive since the 2015 World Cup. They rely on their middle order for most of their runs, but even there India have them beat because they have the better quality hitters. Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni are perfect to build on the typically good starts that Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli give them.
So, to even things out, let’s have a grey, gloomy, non-rainy, bowler-friendly day and watch who can rise above.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
nNew Zealand: WWWWW
In the spotlight
KL Rahul has started to become an all-purpose fix-it kind of player. At Kings XI Punjab this IPL, he was given the role of anchor. For the same team in the previous IPL, he was asked to forget about everything and just go berserk. For India, he’s the back-up opener, but then showed he has the game to be their No. 4 bat. That really is the thing here. Rahul has the game – when he’s switched on he can even find a way through those nasty inswingers that keep getting him out and that’s why he’s able to adapt to all the roles given to him. Just a question of staying switched on.
Tom Latham might understand those sentiments. He too is an opener by trade but has had to take up a middle order position because New Zealand needed stability there and he’s got the skills to tackle the kind of bowling most No. 5s usually face – spin, spin and more spin. Plus, he’s taken on wicketkeeping duties as well and has become a very safe presence behind the stumps.
The only question around the Indian team is who will come in at No. 4. Vijay Shankar was the first batsman to hit the nets. Is that enough of a hint that he’ll make his World Cup debut?
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Dinesh Karthik/Vijay Shankar, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Colin Munro was worked out the last time these team teams played against each other, so there may be a case of having Henry Nicholls back as opener. Plus, seeing as Tim Southee is fit, he could make a return to the XI, if only because of his record against Kohli: 188 runs, 179 balls and five dismissals.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro/ Henry Nicholls, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Colin de Grandhomme, 9 Tim Southee/Matt Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult
Pitch and conditions
This game will be played on a fresh strip, one that is more centrally located and therefore helping even out the boundary distances. They’ll still be short though and that’s why most teams prefer chasing here. But if you truly do prefer setting a total, just know that, since July 8 2015, the average first innings score that’s resulted in a win is 390. #GoooooodLuck
Hardik goes at a strike rate of 114 in his first 20 balls. Out of all the batsmen that have scored at least 500 runs since the last World Cup, that is the absolute best and that is why he is so dangerous. He hits from from ball one; hits any kind of bowling from ball one. But New Zealand might just have a way to get the better of him. His head-to-head with Trent Boult reads 32 runs in 35 balls and three dismissals.
Attack Kane Williamson with spin. He’s got a very modest record against all the options India might consider throwing at him: 53 runs in 69 balls and two dismissals against Yuzvendra Chahal, 18 runs in 25 balls and two dismissals against Kuldeep Yadav and 64 runs in 81 balls and two dismissals against…. drumroll please… Kedar Jadhav.
Stats and Trivia
Kohli needs 57 runs to complete 11,000 in ODIs. And considering he’ll only be playing his 222nd innings, he will be the quickest to the mark, beating Sachin Tendulkar who took 276 innings to get there.
Ross Taylor has been New Zealand’s best ODI player for the past couple of years – average 79 – and he’ll be ultra-crucial against India because of his record against spin: 87 runs in 101 balls and one dismissal against Chahal, 42 runs in 47 balls and no dismissals against Kuldeep