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ODI World Cup – Semi-Finals Preview

After a lengthy group stage we’ve finally reached the business end of the 2023 ODI World Cup, with two huge blockbusters in store.

India v New Zealand, Wednesday 7:30pm (AEDT)

  • Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
  • Head-to-head: Played 117; India 59 v New Zealand 50 (8 NR/ties)
  • Last time: India def New Zealand by four wickets

For India, it’s hard to think of a more dominant group stage by a host nation in World Cup history. Rohit Sharma’s men head into this semi-final having not only gone 9-0, but comfortably beaten all three other semi-finalists. They thoroughly deserve their billing as $1.85 tournament favourites with Palmerbet. But the weight of history, and of a nation, on their shoulders is only now getting heavy. India’s cricket fans are not hopeful of victory — they expect it. And without an ICC trophy since 2013, this is seemingly their time. They’ve known for some time they would skate into the semis, but now they’re face with a knockout clash against the same nation who — also as underdogs — booted them out of the 2019 World Cup.

But they are better positioned, compared to four years ago, to reach their first World Cup final since 2011. This is not only an experienced outfit that can withstand high pressure, but perhaps India’s most well-rounded ODI XI ever. Their pace attack is firing on all cylinders, and their top order is in devastating touch. Put simply, if both teams play to their average output, India will walk it in. New Zealand will need to put in an incredible performance to be in with a chance. And perhaps the only way their occurs is with early incisions with the new ball. If there’s swing at the Wankhede, Trent Boult looms as a potential match-winner for the Black Caps. Early shape into India’s right-hand heavy batting lineup is perhaps their best shot at making a third-straight ODI World Cup final.

 

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Tip: Top home team bowler – Jasprit Bumrah (IND) @ $3.75*

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South Africa v Australia, Thursday 7:30pm (AEDT)

  • Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
  • Head-to-head: Played 109; South Africa 55 v Australia 50 (4 NR/ties)
  • Last time: South Africa def Australia by 134 runs

The Aussies go into the semis with a head full of steam, brushing off a slow start to the tournament to win seven games on the bounce. There’s a lot of positives for Pat Cummins’ side heading into this blockbuster against South Africa — a side they’ve famously had the wood over at the business end of tournaments. David Warner is in arguably career-best touch, Glenn Maxwell is now without doubt the player opposition sides would least like to face in a knockout match, and Adam Zampa has underlined why he is perhaps the best white ball bowler in the world.

Perhaps the biggest worry for Australia, and something skipper Pat Cummins himself admitted, is that many victories have been powered by huge individual performances rather than team efforts; Warner/Marsh against Pakistan, Head against New Zealand, Zampa against England and Maxwell against Afghanistan. The Aussies can’t keep relying on one of their stars to pull them out of trouble if they’re to lift a sixth ODI World Cup title. Selection-wise, the biggest question for this one appears to be a straight shootout between Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis. More precisely, a toss-up between wanting middle-order stability in case of an early collapse, or lower-order firepower and a competent sixth or seventh bowling option. Much will depend on the surface; if it looks to offer spin — and if it’s likely South Africa pick both Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi — then Labuschagne is likely to get the nod.

The Proteas will undoubtedly take confidence from not only their humbling of the Aussies earlier in the tournament, but a stirring comeback win the ODI series that preceded this tournament. But since the October 12 encounter in Lucknow, their form has somewhat plateaued while Australia’s has continued on an upward trajectory. The Aussies have struggled to strike in the Powerplay and if Quinton de Kock against gets hold of them against the new ball as he did last time out, they’ll set themselves up for a huge total. Henrich Klaasen, David Miller and Aiden Markram is perhaps world cricket’s scariest middle order. Forecast Kolkata rain, for both Thursday plus Friday’s reserve day, looms as throwing a spanner in both sides’ pre-match plans and could impact a decision at the toss.

Tip: Player of the match – Glenn Maxwell (AUS) @ $10.50*

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