By Niall Anderson in Manchester
The odds are in – and they do not favour the Black Caps.
The Black Caps have been installed as distant outsiders going into the semifinal stages of the Cricket World Cup, being placed at $9 to be raising the Cup aloft in London eight days from now.
According to the bookmakers, it will most likely be a three-horse race for the title, with India – New Zealand's opponents in their semifinal on Tuesday – being set as $2.90 favourites to win the World Cup, with England at $3 and Australia at $3.40.
India's favouritism has something to do with earning what is deemed to be the easier semifinal draw, playing the Black Caps in Manchester. While Australia and England will go head-to-head in Birmingham in a titanic battle, India get to take on a side which has lost their last three games, and has struggled to score runs throughout the tournament.
Conversely, India have the tournament's best batsman in Rohit Sharma, who has scored a World Cup-record five centuries so far, as well as the world's number one ranked ODI batsman and bowler in Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah respectively.
With that in mind, India have been installed as $1.36 favourites in their semifinal, with New Zealand at $3.26 – their longest odds of the tournament.
It will be the first meeting between the two sides at a World Cup since 2003, after their group stage clash in Nottingham was washed out last month. They did meet recently in an ODI series in New Zealand this summer though, without Bumrah and with Kohli only playing three games, but India still claimed a convincing 4-1 series win.
However, the Black Caps can clutch to that one win, in Hamilton where Trent Boult ripped through the Indian top order with 5-21, and India were routed for an ODI record low of 92.
Those conditions are unlikely to be replicated in Manchester on Tuesday, but the Black Caps also claimed a convincing warm-up win over India at The Oval. Sure, that means remarkably little when looking at the pressure situation of a World Cup semifinal, but at least it will give New Zealand some proof to hold on to – they've done it before, and they can do it again.
Black Caps coach Gary Stead knows his side need to improve on their recent performances, however.
"We're under no illusions that there are some very good teams here, and we need to be better than what we have been if we want to compete with Australia, England or India in those semifinal spots.
"It's going to be a tough game of cricket, but if we can fire some shots and play somewhere near the best of our ability, then I think we're a real chance."
The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT