Only Kane Williamson‘s New Zealand side is standing in the way for Rohit Sharma and Co. as hosts India are eyeing its first appearance in the ICC World Cup final since 2011. After achieving a perfect nine in the round-robin phase of the ICC World Cup, Rohit’s Team India is set to meet the Black Caps in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup on Wednesday. Two-time winners India last lifted the famous trophy in 2011. The Men In Blue are the only undefeated side at the 2023 World Cup.
The blockbuster clash between India and New Zealand will be the rematch of the 2019 World Cup semi-final at Manchester where Williamson and Co. edged past the Men In Blue to record back-to-back appearances in the final. Renewing their rivalry in the 2023 edition of the ICC World Cup, Rohit and Co. recorded a comprehensive win over New Zealand at Dharamsala. Virat Kohli played a masterful knock as the Kiwis suffered a rare defeat at the World Cup 2023 in the absence of skipper Williamson.
New Zealand skipper Williamson featured in only three matches of the ICC World Cup 2023. However, the Kiwi talisman has smashed 187 runs in three games with an average of 93.50. Talking about a fit-again Williamson ahead of the World Cup semi-finals, batting legend Sunil Gavaskar opined that the New Zealand skipper knows how to tackle Indian bowlers, especially spin wizard Kuldeep Yadav. Indian spinner Kuldeep proved to be a tad expensive when India last met the Black Caps at the World Cup.
‘Don’t think he is going to be fussed about playing Kuldeep’
“It doesn’t matter. He’s such a great player; it doesn’t matter if he’s come out from a big break and he’s scored runs. So, I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference. He uses his feet really well to go down the pitch to smother the turn if needed; he then goes and uses the crease as well. So, he’s a very good player. I don’t think he is going to be fussed about playing Kuldeep; he will know how to tackle him. If needed, you don’t want to hit him for boundaries; just work it away for six singles if that is required,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
Williamson played a stroke-filled knock of 95 off 79 balls against India’s arch-rivals Pakistan in match No.35 of the World Cup. Williamson’s 95-run knock and Rachin Ravindra’s brilliant century (108) powered New Zealand to a massive 401-run total against the 1992 world champions. Williamson and Co. finished ahead of Babar Azam’s Pakistan to seal the fourth spot for the semi-final stage of the World Cup.
‘We haven’t seen that side of Kane Williamson maybe in 2019…’
“Then, six runs an over is a good scoring rate by any standard, so he will look to do that. When the boundary ball comes along, he will hit the boundary ball, so we’ve seen his willingness to take more risks. We haven’t seen that side of Kane Williamson maybe in 2019, but here, we have seen him take the aerial route. He got out on a shot for a 100 the other day; he got out on 95, but that’s because he had taken the aerial route, and he will probably look to do that against Kuldeep Yadav as well,” Gavaskar added.