Football royalty David Beckham was a guest of honour at the Wankhede Stadium, where he met teams India and New Zealand ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-final tie. Beckham walked around the Wankhede pitch with Sachin Tendulkar - an individual who shares a similar stature to the football great in the cricketing pantheon - mingling with players and kicking a ball around, much to the delight of those present.
Beckham later retreated into the stands to join Tendulkar and the other dignitaries present inside the stadium for the crunch tie, where he witnessed Virat Kohli break his companion's record of ODI centuries by grabbing his 50th.
India won the toss and chose to bat in the first semi-final of ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 15. India are playing the same XI as in their previous game against Netherlands, and New Zealand too are unchanged. The toss assumes importance at the Wankhede Stadium where the ball tends to swing a lot more under lights and the average second innings score has been 188 as against 357 in the first innings.
Happy to win the toss, India captain Rohit Sharma said: "It looks like a good pitch and on the slower side as well. I think it was way back in 2019 when we played that semi-final. New Zealand has been one of the most consistent teams over the years and it will be a good contest. I think it's a very important day, but you've to turn up on that particular day."
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson said they would have had a bat first as well if they won the toss. "Obviously, a used surface and hopefully some dew in the evening. Looking forward to the challenge ahead. It should be a good game. Both teams have seen a variety of conditions and it's knockout cricket really," Williamson added.
India have had an unbeaten run in the tournament so far, notching up nine wins in the nine league games they have played. The Kiwis, on the other hand, stumbled mid-way in the group stage and scraped into the semi-finals, edging out Pakistan for the fourth spot with five wins out of nine games.
In a reprise of the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-final that ended in heartbreak for India, Rohit Sharma's men are taking on New Zealand in the first last-four clash of the 2023 ODI World Cup. India had narrowly lost the 2019 semi-final, with MS Dhoni's run-out imprinted in cricket lovers' memories. The hosts are aiming to leave that loss behind and gun for their third title in the showpiece event after the triumphs of 1983 and 2011.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Kane Williamson (C), Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (wk), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.