India Vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, Match 21: Three Key Battles To Look Forward To

India and New Zealand have both notched up four back-to-back wins in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, and played like champions so far. Let's look at three key battles that could shape how the IND vs NZ match pans out in Dharamsala on Sunday

Virat Kohli celebrates his century against Bangladesh in Pune.

It's the clash of the titans - the two teams that remain unscathed, 20 matches into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. India and New Zealand have both shown streaks of invincibility en route their respective four consecutive wins in the tournament. The Kiwis have hardly broken a sweat, notching up big victory margins while chasing and defending alike. The injury to their ever-dependable captain Kane Williamson hasn't bogged down the team, which seems determined to go one step further after coming agonizingly close to the title in 2019. (Scorecard | Streaming | Full Coverage)

Standing in their way are the hosts, who have waltzed into this World Cup with an enviable team balance and a bevy of proven match-winners. That balance might get disturbed a wee bit with the ankle injury of Hardik Pandya, who has been ruled out of the IND vs NZ clash in Dharamsala on Sunday, October 22. It remains to be seen how India react to this challenge, and whom they induct into the XI in his stead.

Injuries aside, it promises to be a cracker of a contest, and one that could set the tone for a prospective clash in the knock-out stage later, where both teams seemed destined to be heading.     

Let's look at three key battles that could shape how the India vs New Zealand match pans out in Dharamsala on Sunday:

Rohit Sharma Vs Trent Boult
India captain Rohit Sharma has been at his destructive best in the 2023 ODI World Cup so far, and has showcased his full range of strokes, showing scant regard for the bowler and the pitch. He has taken the aerial route with gay abandon, as evidenced by the 13 sixes he has hit already in the tournament. But he might have to rethink his strategy against a class act like Trent Boult, who swings the new ball prodigiously and bowls tight lines. Hitting across the line may be fraught with danger against Boult, who doesn't just pick up early wickets but also keeps the scoring rate down in the powerplay usually.   

Virat Kohli Vs Mitchell Santner
Till not so long ago, star India batter Virat Kohli was struggling against left-arm spinners. He seems to have overcome that now and is firing on all cylinders in the World Cup, with a glittering unbeaten century against Bangladesh in India's previous game. But in Mitchell Santner, New Zealand have a canny operator who is in red-hot form  right now. Santner is leading the bowling charts in the tournament with 11 wickets, at an excellent average of 15.09. Will Virat be able to play the percentages well against the slow left-armer, or will he succumb to Santner's guile? We will find out on Sunday.     

Jasprit Bumrah Vs Rachin Ravindra  
India's pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has returned from a long back injury layoff spectacularly, almost as if he never went away. He has hit the right lengths and lines and found the movement and bounce that make him so dangerous. With 10 wickets so far at an average of 13.4, Bumrah has been India's most successful bowler and the hosts will again rely on him for the early breakthroughs. But standing in his way at No. 3 will be the 23-year-old Indian-origin southpaw Rachin Ravindra, who has shown the propensity to shine on the big stage. The youngster scored a dazzling undefeated ton in the World Cup opener against defending champions England, and would be raring to do well against the strong Indian side too.                

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