Mumbai: Legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar said that with the form the Indian bowling attack is in, it does not really matter if they bowl first or second during the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, but it would help if they defend the total because there will be a scoreboard pressure on the Kiwis.
Speaking exclusively to Star Sports show 'Game Plan', former India cricketer and captain Sunil Gavaskar spoke on pitch conditions, and what team India should opt for if they win the toss, he said, "Well if you have got a good bowling attack like India have, it does not really matter if they are bowling first or bowling second. Clearly, if they are bowling second, it will help because we have seen under a little bit of dew that comes in, the ball flies to the wicketkeeper a little bit quicker."
The game is evenly poised between two great teams and on paper, both look strong. The chances of either of them winning are 50:50 right now. However, Men in Blue are bigger favourites to win the tournament this time than they were last time when these two sides faced off in the semi-final of the ICC Men's ODI World Cup in 2019 in Manchester.
"So, it certainly will help the three new ball bowlers in the Indian line-up for sure, and it also helps a spinner like Kuldeep Yadav to get the ball to skid out of the surface also quicker. So yes, if India is defending a total bowling second, I do believe that will help also because there is scoreboard pressure, you might not be able to get 400 but 260 or 270, that will put pressure on New Zealand," added Gavaskar.
India will take on New Zealand in the first semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Wednesday. While Kiwis will be aiming to reach their third successive World Cup final after 2015 and 2019, India will be looking forward to overcoming the knockout hurdle that has not let them win a major ICC title since 2013 and that too against a team that has given them the most trouble in must-win matches.
Gavaskar also spoke on skipper Rohit Sharma's attacking batting approach and game plan, he said, "Well I do not think Rohit Sharma is going to change his game because that's how he has played throughout this tournament. He has not been bothered about any personal landmarks or milestones. He is looking to get the team up to a flying start because what that does, puts the opposition under pressure and gives his team the platform from where they can then capitalize on the remaining 40 overs. So in the first 8 -10 overs, he is really going to slam back at the bowling and he has put the opposition on the back foot with that attacking batting. He also has a very able and very capable partner Shubman Gill, whose note no with behind him. He is almost matching him stroke for stroke."
Rohit is the fourth-highest run-getter in the tournament so far, with 503 runs in nine matches at an average of 55.88, with one century and three fifties. His best score is 131 and he has struck runs at a strike rate of 121.
Gavaskar also commented on what it would feel like for the three Mumbai boys in the team to be playing at their home ground, he said, "Believe me, it is special to be back playing at your home ground, and for these three (referring to Rohit, Shreyas and Suryakumar Yadav) boys as well, they have played so much of their cricket at the Wankhede stadium. It will be really special because the crowd will be there and their families will be there, and when you know everybody you have grown up playing cricket with in the maidans or maybe in the gullies, they are all going to be there, it just makes it that much more special. And you want to therefore do well for those people, and when you go back at the end of day's play that those same people will pat you on the back, that's a feeling that is unforgettable."
'No weak link in bowling'
Former Australia cricketer and captain Aaron Finch analysed India's bowling performance, he said, "It has been unbelievable. There is no weak link in their armour and now Shami coming in and his World Cup record is unbelievable in itself. So there is just no weak link. They are getting wickets in the power play. Jadeja is so hard to get away from, he is so accurate and consistent. Then the mystery of Kuldeep, now that he is bowling at 85km per hour plus, there is no time to read him off the wicket. So he has been used with that intent as well. They are all taking wickets at regular intervals. So that has just been absolutely clinical to watch so far."
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.