Initially, an irresistible force propels India into the World Cup of their most ambitious fantasies, their unbeaten status being a mere consequence of meticulous pre-tournament planning. Emerging from the aftermath of 2019 with an insatiable need for improvement, they embarked on an extensive quest, experimenting with up to 50 different players across four years and 66 matches. Six months before the showcase event, their focus crystallized on a selected group of 24 players, shaping the final XI from this pool in the 15 ODIs between March and October 2023.
Those chosen were provided with comprehensive support to realize their full potential, resulting in players like Suryakumar Yadav seamlessly integrating into the world of ODI cricket. Off the field, India’s success narrative unfolded in the realms of medical facilities, gyms, and training sessions, enabling players like Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, and Shreyas Iyer to recover from injuries without compromising their skill sets or succumbing to doubts about potential relapses.
Rohit Sharma and his predecessor Virat Kohli, frequently questioned about the absence of ICC trophies since 2013, have consistently emphasized a record of sustained excellence. Regardless of the outcome in the upcoming week, the strides made by this team—exemplified by the freedom in their batting, discipline in their bowling, self-trust, and infectious joy—already resonate as historic achievements.
Now, enter the unwavering, shape-shifting entity: New Zealand adapts to what it takes to secure victory. When Rachin Ravindra’s prolific run-scoring compelled a change in the opening order, they made the necessary adjustment. Glenn Phillips transformed into an almost-allrounder, doubling his ODI career bowling output during the tournament. Overcoming key injuries and remaining undeterred by close losses, New Zealand’s approach is marked by resilience, showing a remarkable ability to stay in the game until seizing an opportune moment to break through. This resilience is particularly evident in high-pressure situations, reminiscent of their performance on July 14, 2019.
Anticipate a cautious beginning, each team meticulously avoiding the first mistake, with the goal not just to defeat the opposition but to endure longer than them. New Zealand, masters of this strategic art, excel at persisting in the game until they find the opening to make their move.