Rohit Sharma has scored five centuries in the 2019 World Cup so far. With his 5th, he broke the previous record for the highest three-figure totals by a batsman at a World Cup. KL Rahul, meanwhile, made a slow start to the tournament but finally reached his maiden tournament-hundred in India’s final group-stage game against Sri Lanka.
By the end of it all, the Indian top-order dished out a fairytale one could’ve scarcely hoped for after the injury to Shikhar Dhawan.
If there’s one character who could change the script to this fairytale story, though, it’s the one India were deprived of facing in the group game, thanks to the rain gods.
Interestingly, India will meet the same character in the first semifinal of the 2019 World Cup. Unluckily, the current weather predictions favor him.
Trent Boult may not have been among the best in the business, but give him the suitable conditions, and he can wreak havoc. As India takes on New Zealand, he could become a major threat to the Indian batsmen – especially the openers.
It has been only six months since India registered a comfortable 4-1 win over New Zealand at their own backyard. It was a thrashing of sorts – India were clearly the better of the two sides.
However, if New Zealand really needs to look for inspiration, Boult needs to look no further than the moments where he made life miserable for the Indian batsmen with the conditions which so efficiently complimented his bowling, and one of those comes from the same series.
In the fourth ODI of the series in Hamilton, New Zealand bowled India out for 92, with Boult taking five. The left-armer was getting the ball to swing both ways, which troubled Rohit Sharma, who has a history of facing troubles against left-arm quicks.
Boult kept it very full and angled it inward towards Rohit Sharma, who had a half-mind on pushing it over Boult and half of defending it, and in the process, gave an easy catch to the bowler.
Not too long ago, under the cloud-cover at Kennington Oval, Trent Boult took the upper hand over both, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. He trapped Rohit, again, with his traditional in-swinger, and the Indian opener was simply too late to respond. He approached KL Rahul with a tweak in his tactics, as he surprised the batsman by pitching the ball up a bit.
Under such conditions, there are a few bowlers who could make the ball go as they want to. And Boult bowls as if he simply dictates the ball. Manchester has received a few showers over the past few days, and the weather is expected to remain overcast on the day of the match. Trent Boult would not mind those conditions one bit, but Rohit Sharma might.
The Indian opener has been dismissed against left-arm pacers on 23 occasions in 208 innings, and New Zealand would certainly be wary of his struggles. Rohit may have had a stellar World Cup campaign, and is certainly wise enough to not undermine the threat from Boult, but it will be a significant test of his patience and grit when he takes on the Kiwi pacer on Tuesday.