India will be nervous ahead of Black Caps encounter says former skipper
Black Caps great Ross Taylor says India will be “nervous” about facing New Zealand in the World Cup semi-finals after a stinging defeat to the same opponents at the same stage four years ago.
Taylor was a key member of the New Zealand side who stunned the Indians by 18 runs in the rain-hit 2019 semi-final in Manchester to book a final berth against eventual champions Engalnd.
Writing a column for the ICC, Taylor said it was “impossible not to look back at the parallels” ahead of Wednesday’s match in Mumbai.
On both occasions, India were top qualifiers and heavy favourites, while New Zealand scraped into the fourth and final knockout berth.
“This time around, India are even bigger favourites, at home and having played so well during the group stage,” Taylor wrote.
“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. We’re up against it, of course, but that was also the case in 2019.”
Taylor top-scored with 74 at Old Trafford in an innings that traversed two days – an experience he described as “nerve-wracking”.
Rain intervened late on day one and the Black Caps finally set the Indians 240 after ending their innings early on two.
India’s run chase was in tatters at 24-4 – shredde by Matt Henry’s 3-37 – and they were ultimately dismissed for 221, silencing an Indian-dominated crowd that had anticipated New Zealand would have no answer to their vaunted batting lineup.
“I’d say the crowd was probably about 80 percent Indian, with a sprinkling of New Zealand friends and family and then some English,” Taylor recalled.
“We had to back ourselves in that game. South Africa had just scored 300 there so most commentators thought we were crazy because we were scoring pretty slowly, but (captain) Kane Williamson and myself were confident that 240-250 would be a competitive total.”
Taylor, who retired from international cricket 18 months ago, predicted the first 10 overs of both innings will be critical at the run-friendly Wankhede Stadium venue.
“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,” Taylor said.
“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. 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.”
Taylor described the match as a “big day” for rising Black Caps star Rachin Ravindra, who has defied his inexperience by compiling 565 tournament runs at an average of 70.6.
“We needed someone to score heavily in the tournament,” Taylor said.
“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 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.”
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