After over a month of games against the world's best sides, the Black Caps are into their eighth Cricket World Cup semifinal. But just how well will they fare? Niall Anderson goes back to before their Cup opener and revisits the same key areas to assess how the Black Caps are tracking ahead of the big game.
It was all looking so good for the Black Caps through their first six games, sitting snugly at the top of the Cup ladder with an unbeaten record.
Then the really difficult games arrived.
Losses to Pakistan, Australia and England left the Black Caps having to rely on net run rate to make the semifinals, and while it was always going to require a miracle for them to miss out, it's hardly the type of form they'd like to be carrying into their biggest game in four years.
It's a run that doesn't bode well for their chances, either.
On 16 occasions a team has come into the knockout stage of the World Cup off the back of a loss – and none of those sides won the World Cup.
Add in the fact that no side has ever gone into the knockout stage on the back of three consecutive losses, and the Black Caps will have to be the first side in World Cup history to overcome a pre-knockout loss – and a historic streak of losses at that.
The Black Caps have been relatively lucky with injuries. While Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls missed the first few games, they weren't certain starters, and other than that, only Lockie Ferguson – out against England with a tight hamstring – has been forced to miss any action.
Compare that to the rest of the semifinalists, and the Black Caps can have few complaints. Australia have had Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja ruled out of the tournament and Marcus Stoinis in doubt, India had standout opener Shikhar Dhawan ruled out at an early stage, and England went several games without a crucial part of their gameplan, opener Jason Roy.
The Black Caps have one more training session to get through, but should have a fit and healthy 15 to pick from, with Ferguson giving himself the all clear to play.
"There was definitely some tightness, particularly the day before the game. With the playoff coming up and it happening the day before, it was more of a precaution than anything and the scans came back with nothing too serious," Ferguson said.
They're all healthy, but can they all perform on the day? There's been no problem with the bowling attack, who have given up 300 runs only once this tournament, and provided plenty of opportunities, largely thanks to the pace attack of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. The seam bowling all-rounders – Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme – have both had match-winning moments and performed well, while Kane Williamson has, unsurprisingly, been one of the stars of the tournament with the bat.
Unfortunately for New Zealand, Williamson's two centuries – in back-to-back games - are the only centuries the team have mustered. Ross Taylor has been solid without finding the spectacular form he's shown the past few years, but the Black Caps openers have been the worst at the World Cup, and Tom Latham only managed to pass 15 for the first time all tournament when he struck 57 against England.
If one of Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls or Latham can notch a big score in the semifinal, it would go a long way to patching over what has been a disappointing World Cup for the Black Caps batsmen.
India are a familiar opponent for the Black Caps, but not at World Cups, where they haven't played them since 2003. Their group stage showdown was washed out in Nottingham, meaning to look for any trends and insights, you have to instead scrutinise the ODI series in New Zealand this summer, where India cruised to a 4-1 victory, without Jasprit Bumrah and with Virat Kohli only playing three games.
The Black Caps' challenge? Facing the number one ODI side, featuring the number one ODI bowler (Bumrah), number one ODI batsman (Kohli), and, oh, Rohit Sharma, who has only smacked a record five centuries at this World Cup, including three in a row.
This is before we even get to the Indian spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who combined for 17 wickets in the New Zealand series, or seamer Mohammed Shami, who has already taken a hat-trick at this World Cup, or some bloke named MS Dhoni.
The Black Caps have won just one of their past seven ODIs against India, and they'll need a near-perfect performance to double that tally.
Old Trafford in Manchester, which has been the go-to ground if you've wanted to see runs scored at this Cricket World Cup. Batting first has proven to be the winning formula, with scores of 336-5, 397-6, 291-8, 268-7 and 325-6 seeing all five sides who batted first claim victory. A new pitch is being prepared for the semifinal, and Black Caps coach Gary Stead believes whoever bats first will need to score 300 to have a good chance at progressing to the final.
"It's a good cricket surface out there and has been right throughout the tournament.
"If you look at scores at Old Trafford you're looking at somewhere around 300 as probably about par. No doubt about it – you're going to have to score that many."
The weather could also play a part in Manchester, with a chance of drizzle on Tuesday and the forecast set to worsen for the reserve day on Wednesday. If the game does happen to be washed out – across two days – India would advance as the higher qualifier.
The Black Caps have played six completed ODIs in Manchester, winning twice, but only one of those games holds any relevance to this World Cup semifinal.
Yes, in the only completed ODI they've played at the ground since 1999, Old Trafford was the scene of the Black Caps' thrilling win over the West Indies. It was unsurprisingly their highest-scoring affair of the World Cup to date – a potential sign of the type of scores that Stead, and many others, believe will be required to advance to the World Cup final.
The Black Caps are at $3.50 to beat India – their longest odds all tournament – and are massive outsiders compared to the other three teams left standing, being installed at $10 to win the World Cup.