Cricket World Cup 2023 Semi-Finals Preview

Cricket World Cup 2023 Semi-Finals Preview

Welcome to Wicky’s preview for the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup semi-finals!

South Africa v Australia

Thu 16/11, 2pm IST (7.30pm ADST)

Eden Gardens, Kolkata

We see a rematch of the epic 1999 World Cup clashes between these two sides! Australia are favourites with the bookies but South Africa have beaten them the last 4 times they have played each other, including a convincing win against the Aussies in the group stages.

Kolkata isn’t as high scoring as some of the other Indian grounds and with rain expected – we might see cloudy conditions which could further help the bowlers. Our players to watch are Adam Zampa & Keshav Maharaj. As you can see in the graphic below – they’ve been two of the best bowlers throughout the middle phase of ODIs over the last 4 years. Zampa has arguably been the bowler of the tournament so far and Maharaj has had a couple of tight spells with the ball and can also add crucial lower order runs with the bat. We think whichever of these two has a better day could decide the game.

Australia v South Africa Semi Final Preview
Australia v South Africa Semi Final Preview

Australia started the tournament poorly – they’ve only lost two games, to the two sides above them (India and South Africa) but they lost both of these games convincingly. Labuschange, Smith, Inglis & Stoinis – 3 of these 4 will be in the Aussie middle order. None of Hazlewood, Starc or Cummins have had an excellent World Cup. The runs that Maxwell, Warner, Head & Marsh have got have either been against a couple of the weaker teams or all in a couple of innings. There are so many things stacked against Australia, yet the bookies still have them favourites and fans always talk about ‘Finals Australia’ – can they do it one more time?

Whereas South Africa, on paper, are almost as stacked as India. An aggressive batting line up including De Kock, RVD, Markram & Klaasen + a bowling attacking including Rabada, Jansen & two left arm spinners (like India) who spin it in opposition directions. They blew a game against the Netherlands and were outclassed by India. But they convincingly beat Australia and New Zealand. Can South Africa finally live up to their promise and make a World Cup Final? Unfortunately for Australian fans, we think so.

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India v New Zealand

Wed 15/11, 2pm IST (7.30pm ADST)

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Every podcast you listen to, every article you read – they all say the same thing. India has been perfect so far this World Cup. India lost to New Zealand in the first ever World Test Championship Final and also in the last ODI WC Semi Final. With the weight of a nation behind them, it’s hard to see India falling over before the Final again! The games in Mumbai have been high scoring and the crowd has been electric. Teams have preferred to bat first and get the fielders out there for 50 overs in the mid 30s heat! The ball has been hooping a bit under lights also. It’s the home ground for the Mumbai Indians – Rohit, Bumrah & ‘SKY’ will be used to this venue.

India won relatively comfortably against New Zealand earlier in the tournament (by 4 wickets) – Kohli scored 95, Shami ripped through New Zealand to claim 5 wickets. It’s worth remembering that at that point both teams were on 4 wins each and India have since gone on to remain undefeated throughout the group stage – winning all 9 games. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about India. Their batsmen have all fired. They have 5 bowlers – 3 quicks who have all been excellent and Kuldeep and Jadeja who are both left arm spinners who spin the ball different ways. The closest they have to a weak link is Siraj who has had a couple of off days and they only have 7 batsmen, they do have a long tail.

New Zealand have had a hot and cold tournament. Having lost to the three teams above them, it’s easy to underrate them. However, they only lost to Australia by 5 runs (almost chased 389), ran India closer than anyone else and had a loss to Pakistan via DLS (rain) when they’d scored 400! Their top 4 – Conway, Rachin, Williamson & Mitchell are world class. So are Boult and Santner. The worry is their 5th bowler and their middle/lower order – if New Zealand are to win, they’ll need to blow away India’s top order and contain them to a 250-280 type score and chase it down.

India v New Zealand Semi Final Preview
India v New Zealand Semi Final Preview

Our key player to watch for tonight’s game is Rohit Sharma. We spoke in our podcast about how the Indian batsmen have played to their strengths and have stuck to their ‘roles’. Well Rohit Sharma has led by example and created a role for himself and every single innings he has been unselfish – often costing himself bigger scores as he’s looking to ‘show intent’ and go hard. Kohli and Gill bat fluently, Iyer and Rahul can carve out long innings’ and finish with a flurry at 4 and 5. ‘SKY’ is the best T20 batsman in the world – him and Jadeja are excellent finishers.

As the graphic above shows, Rohit averages as many runs in the Powerplay in the last 4 years as anyone else. He’s also the only player to score over 400 runs and strike rate at over 120. No one else has a SR over 110 in this group! The 3 other players to strike at 115 or above are Markram (no.4), Klaasen (middle order) and Maxwell (300+ of his runs have come in two innings against Afghanistan and Netherlands).

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