The first semi-final of the 2019 ICC World Cup will be played between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Injury-hit Australia’s valiant but vain run chase against South Africa in Manchester on Saturday evening was enough to deprive the Baggy Greens of top-spot and the Aussies will hobble their way to Birmingham on Thursday where they will meet a rampant England.

India were clinical against Sri Lanka in their final round-robin game at Headingley on Saturday and they are 7/4 joint-favourites with England at BetVictor to lift the Trophy at Lords on Sunday and 1/3 to beat a Black Caps side who will welcome back Lockie Ferguson into their ranks from injury. I expect India to keep slow left armer Ravindra Jadeja in their XI and it is a toss up between which one of their leg spinners Kuldeep Jadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will miss out.

 

The group game between the sides was washed out at Trent Bridge last month and, arguably, that point was vital as the Black Caps limped into the last four.

Pakistan – who finished level on points with New Zealand – will still be kicking themselves for being bowled out by the West Indies for 105 in the second game of the whole tournament and then allowing the Windies to knock off the runs in the 14th over. It was only net run rate that saw Kane Williamson’s side make the semi-final.

Rohit Sharma (647) goes into the semi nine runs ahead of Australia’s David Warner in the race to be the tournament’s top scorer and both have been in sensational form. The opener is vying for favouritism with skipper Virat Kohli in the market to be top runscorer in the Indian innings, but it is Kohli (9/4) who gets the vote.

The Indian skipper has scored 442 runs at an average of over 63 and I expect to see the world’s best batsman play a key role in guiding his side into Sunday’s final.

TOPSHOT - India's captain Virat Kohli (L) congratulates India's Rohit Sharma (R) as he passes him on his way back to the pavilion after losing his wicket for 103 during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Sri Lanka and India at Headingley in Leeds, northern England, on July 6, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

New Zealand, if they are to cause a shock, need more from opener Martin Guptill who has scored just 166 runs in the tournament to date despite having opened up with 73 not out against Sri Lanka in Cardiff. Let’s hope he can bookend his tournament with decent scores.

India’s opening bowler Jasprit Bumrah (17) has not had the wickets that Aussie quick Mitchell Starc (26) has during the tournament but an economy rate of less than 4.5 per over is quite outstanding and the Black Caps are likely to treat him with plenty of respect.

The weather is forecast to be cloudy and overcast in Manchester on Tuesday. Will Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson take a punt on his own left arm quick Trent Boult making inroads at the top of the Indian innings and insert the opposition if he wins the toss?

India expect to reach Sunday’s final. New Zealand hope they can upset the odds but, after three successive defeats, it is hard to make a case for them. They are 9/4 to reach Sunday’s final and they will need plenty of luck – including at the toss – if they are to cause an upset.

Tips:

India to win

Virat Kohli top batsman Indian innings

Martin Guptill top batsman New Zealand innings

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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