India vs New Zealand: Kohli and Williamson on World Cup semi-final
The “bravest” team will win the first World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand, says India’s Virat Kohli.
The group match between the two sides was rained off, although New Zealand thrashed India by eight wickets in a pre-tournament warm-up.
However, New Zealand have lost their last three World Cup matches while India topped the group.
“This is like the toughest situations you get in Test cricket. You have to be absolutely precise,” said Kohli.
“Whichever team is more brave in being calculated, I think they stand a better chance to win.”
“To a certain extent, it all starts again,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson added. “When the day comes, anything can happen.”
Both sides had strong showings at Old Trafford during the group stages – India, who have lost just once in the competition, crushed Pakistan at the venue while New Zealand edged out West Indies in a mid-tournament thriller.
The final is at Lord’s on 14 July. England meet Australia in the other semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday.
It will not be the first time Williamson and Kohli have faced off in a World Cup semi-final.
Eleven years ago, Kohli led India against Williamson’s New Zealand in the Under-19 World Cup semi-final in Malaysia. India won by three wickets – and went on to win the tournament.
Kohli, now arguably the best batsman in the world, also dismissed his opposite number with his medium pacers.
“I don’t know if that can happen again now,” Kohli joked at his news conference on Monday.
“A lot of players from that whole World Cup made it to the national teams and are still playing, which is a great thing to see.
“Neither me nor him could have ever anticipated that one day this will happen. It is a really nice thing.”
Williamson, who along with Kohli, England’s Joe Root and Australia’s Steve Smith is one of the ‘Big Four’ batsmen in world cricket, said: “It’s kind of cool, isn’t it?
“I don’t remember how he got me out – he used to be a bit of an all-rounder, back in the day. He hasn’t bowled as much recently.”
Williamson has been the key player for New Zealand with their opening batters struggling – he is the sixth-highest run scorer at the World Cup so far, with 481 from eight innings.
“I remember standing in the slips [in 2008] and telling guys, ‘I have never seen anyone play a shot like that.’ He was special,” Kohli said.
“We always knew he has the special ability to go all the way and now he’s controlling the tempo for New Zealand every game that he plays.”
While Rohit Sharma has dominated for India at the top of the order, New Zealand’s batsmen have struggled. They dropped Colin Munro for Henry Nicholls – who has scored eight and nought – towards the end of the group stages and Martin Guptill is averaging just 23.71.
This has meant Williamson, who has scored two centuries, has often come out early in the innings.
“There’s been a number of contributions that have been really important in order for us to get to where we are right now,” Williamson added.
“From my perspective, it’s about going out, trying to play my role as best as I can to move the team forward. That doesn’t change going into tomorrow.”
650,000 ticket applications for semi-finals
There were more than 650,000 ticket applications for the World Cup semi-finals, which also includes England versus Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Tickets for both the semi-finals and the final went on sale in May 2018, with more than four million applying for tickets in the overall tournament ballot.
Of those four million, more than 880,000 tickets have been sold for the tournament overall, which is in excess of 95%, breaking the previous World Cup record of 75%.
The International Cricket Council told BBC Sport on Monday that 37% of domestic ticket buyers are “new to the game” – and 100,000 under-16s have attended the tournament, as well as 320,000 South East Asian fans. – bbc.com