“Wankhede is actually a good ground for New Zealand…”: Mike Hesson On First Semi-Final Between India And New Zealand

The buzz around the impending ICC World Cup 2023 semi-final has everyone holding their breath as India and New Zealand gear up for a cricketing showdown at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The historical backdrop of these encounters outlines a story of dominance by the Kiwis, setting the stage for a high-pressure semi-final clash.

Former New Zealand cricketer Mike Hesson’s bold claim regarding the Wankhede Stadium’s inclination towards favoring the Kiwi squad raises the stakes for the anticipated semi-final face-off. 

Hesson’s anticipation of the Wankhede pitch offering more bounce to the Kiwi bowlers sparks a narrative of how pitch dynamics might tilt the game. The pressure on the Indian team, haunted by past defeats against New Zealand, accentuates the magnitude of this semi-final challenge despite their unbeaten run. Hesson’s analogy of a David and Goliath scenario between India and New Zealand highlights the overwhelming number of match-winners facing a team that persists, raising the stakes for the clash.

Speaking to Cricbuzz, he explained: “I guess it’s a little bit of the David and Goliath scenario. Isn’t it? India have been through the tournament unbeaten and are in fine form with so many match-winners against a team that just keeps fronting up. The Wankhede is actually a good ground for New Zealand. If you’re going to play India at any ground, Mumbai is not a bad one. I think our bowling attack will get some bounce there. So, therefore, if we get the bounce, we’ve got to take early wickets.”

Hesson’s confidence in Wankhede favouring New Zealand recalls their previous successes, notably the remarkable chase in 2017 and the potential influence of key players in handling the pitch conditions.

He elaborated: “New Zealand’s had some success there (at the Wankhede). I remember an ODI not so long ago chasing after being in trouble there (in 2017, they beat India by six wickets chasing 281). I think Tom Latham got 100 (103 not out), so he’ll have fond memories of the venue, and he’s probably one of the top orders who probably hasn’t been in vintage touch. The rest of the top four have been flying. Glenn Phillips has done pretty well, and I think if Latham can tackle the spin at the Wankhede, which he’s done in the past, that’ll be hugely influential.” 

The 2019 World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand marked a significant battle between Indian batters and the Kiwi pace attack, a scenario anticipated to reprise in the upcoming encounter. The semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium emerges as not just a match but a continuum of a historic rivalry, with Hesson’s insights setting a distinct tone for the upcoming game.

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