India and New Zealand head into the semi-final in Old Trafford with contrasting fortunes. Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team has suffered just one loss and has topped the group with 14 points from nine games. On the other hand, New Zealand started brilliantly with five wins in six games but suffered three consecutive losses. Although New Zealand has reached the semi-final for the seventh time, their batting and bowling have been inconsistent. India, on the other hand, has been brilliant with both bat and ball and they have shown tremendous depth in all departments. Fans and many experts are giving New Zealand no chance of toppling India in the last four but Kohli has remained cautious.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Kohli said he was not taking Williamson’s side lightly. “Decision making will be crucial. Both teams are experienced enough to have played these games. New Zealand was in the finals last time and they know how to play knock out games. They have had a wonderful World Cup again so they're a quality side,” Kohli said.
New Zealand has put out their A-game in knock-out games in past editions, including the 2015 clash against South Africa in Auckland in which a spectacular performance from Grant Elliott saw them reach the final where they lost to Australia in Melbourne. Kohli said it was all about handling pressure in a knock-out situation.
“Whichever team is braver in being calculative, that team stands a better chance to win so we understand that combination, we've made it to a lot of knockout games and finals and it's up to both to bring their A game. Whoever handles pressure better will come out on top,” Kohli said.
‘Will remind Williamson’
Kohli and Williamson will square off in a World Cup knock-out again after 11 years. In the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, India and New Zealand squared off in the semi-final. Williamson was the captain of New Zealand while Kohli was the skipper. It was the Indian skipper who got rid of Williamson for 32 while Kohli was dismissed for 43 when Williamson took the catch. India won the rain-affected game by three wickets and went on to win the final against South Africa.
When asked about the 2008 encounter, Kohli said he will remind Williamson about that contest. “When we meet tomorrow I'll remind him. It's nice to realise that 11 years after, we're captaining our respective nations again in a senior World Cup. A lot of players from that World Cup from our batch, from their batch, from other teams as well, made it to their national teams and are still playing. I think it is a really nice memory. Neither I nor he could have ever anticipated that one day this will happen,” Kohli added.
India would be aiming to seal their spot in the final by registering a win against New Zealand for the first time in a contest in England. New Zealand holds a 4-3 advantage against India in World Cups but on current form, India is favourites to level the scoreline in Old Trafford on Tuesday.