We have finally reached the penultimate stage of the World Cup 2019, and the match between India and New Zealand, in the semi-finals, promises to be an enthralling encounter. As veteran cricket fans will recall, this will be the fourth time the two teams have faced off in a World Cup semi-final, the last of which was in the 2003 edition. And while the Indian team has progressed to the finals in the two earlier semi-finals, on both occasions the Kiwis have had the better of them and gone on to win the tournament.
This year, there is a haunting reminder of the heartbreaking defeat that India faced in 2003. That was a match that saw a strong India side led by Sourav Ganguly facing off against a young and inexperienced New Zealand squad led by Stephen Fleming, who were playing in their first-ever semi-final. Despite being the favorites to win, India was defeated heartbreakingly, with Fleming leading from the front by scoring a courageous round century.
The Indian team has undoubtedly improved and matured since their defeat in 2003. The current squad boasts experienced players like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma who know how to deal with pressure. The team also can hunt down even the most challenging of targets, unlike in the past. Coach Ravi Shastri has also played an important role in ensuring the team is prepared for the semi-final.
On the other hand, New Zealand, while still a strong team, has been dealt a bit of a blow recently with the loss of in-form batsman Ross Taylor to injury. This is sure to hurt their batting line-up, which was already missing the likes of Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill due to form issues. Despite this, the team, led by Kane Williamson himself, has shown tremendous fighting spirit in the tournament so far and no one can ever count them out.
As the clock ticks closer towards the semi-final match between these two sides, it will be interesting to see if India will be able to exorcise the 2003 ghosts and make it to the final, or will it be New Zealand who will pull off yet another upset victory. Whichever team wins, one thing is for sure, the match will be an intense encounter right to the end.