Cricket Expert & Columnist
Nasser Hussain expects big things from MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli in World Cup semi-final
"India have three of the greatest white-ball players of all time in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. But there are some holes in there that they don't know what to do with"
Last Updated: 09/07/19 9:03am
Nasser Hussain expects MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to show their big-game mettle in India's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand - but says Lockie Ferguson's expected return from injury could be a massive boost for the Black Caps at Old Trafford...
India are favourites for the first World Cup semi-final but any side with Kane Williamson in it has a serious chance.
South Africa beat Australia and so, of course, New Zealand can beat India, though obviously on present form, India have the advantage.
They are flying and lost just one game in the group stage, while New Zealand are going into the semi-final on the back of three straight defeats.
The Black Caps have really struggled with the bat - Williamson keeps going in the first couple of overs with the openers out of sorts.
Martin Guptill has a great record in World Cups and in England, but he has found various ways of getting out. For New Zealand to fire, it can't just be The Kane Williamson Show.
India do have a few areas to think about, though.
They have three of the greatest white-ball players of all time in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, while KL Rahul's form of late has been excellent.
But there are some holes in there that they don't know what to do with.
Do they play the extra batter in Dinesh Karthik or do they play Kedar Jadhav for more of a bowling option? Will they play Ravi Jadeja or another frontline spinner? Is it Mohammed Shami or Bhuvneshwar Kumar?
One thing to say about India is that I can't see them being bowled over cheaply. They played what I would call an OK game against England, yet they still got 300.
That total is about par for that line-up - it's whether they can go on and get 340 or 350. However, 300 may be enough with the way New Zealand are batting.
Rohit, in contrast, is batting beautifully.
You want cricketers to entertain, and I have watched two of his five hundreds and been royally entertained. He makes batting look ridiculously easy. He has a great hunger for runs and I like how he has been busy at the crease, running well between the wickets for other people.
Plus, his record is just phenomenal - he may have gone hundred and out in the World Cup, but he has three double tons in ODI cricket in the past.
He takes his time to get going sometimes - he's a bit old-fashioned in that regard, but he sure catches up later on.
Rohit's form has taken some of the spotlight off Kohli, but the captain has still been in very good nick. He will want to convert one of his fifties into a hundred but, as freakishly good as he is, you can't keep nailing century after century after century. At some stage, you will get 50 and out.
However, at this stage of the tournament, a bloke like him will really lift his game.
He knows that if India don't win the World Cup, there will be questions asked and as an absolute winner he will be doing everything he can.
He will know that 50 and out now might not be enough. I wouldn't be surprised if he notches up three figures.
It could be the last few games of Dhoni as an international cricketer - you never know with MS! His glovework has been exceptional in this tournament and his incredibly fast hands remain intact.
At times, his batting has been a bit slow but, like Kohli, big matches are where he delivers. He is about as good as it gets in keeping cool and calm and soaking up the pressure.
In terms of India's team, I think Shami will return after sitting out the win over Sri Lanka. He has got wickets but the problem is that he is not as good at the death as Bhuvneshwar. I suspect it will be Shami and Jasprit Bumrah and then down to the pitch whether India play three seamers.
Jadeja is a good cricketer but I think he is a better cricketer when the pitch is turning. He lengthens the batting line-up and is exceptional in the field, though, so there are decisions to make.
Sometimes they don't select as well as they could. They occasionally react to the last game and pick the side they should have picked, rather than looking forward at the pitch in front of them.
If Lockie Ferguson is fit for New Zealand, though, he will definitely play. He is very skilful.
He can get it up to mid-90mph but has worked on his variations and that slower ball he bowls - where he runs his fingers down the side of the ball - seems to dip on the batsmen, especially when you are expecting express pace and hanging back.
India can't be bullied by short and fast stuff any more but his variations could be crucial.
You saw how India played towards the end of the innings against England, when Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer were bowling slower balls and cutters into the pitch - Dhoni and Jadhav struggled to get it away.
I would expect New Zealand to learn from that and take pace off at times.
Watch India vs New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup (channel 404) from 9.30am on Tuesday.