The Black Caps play in a Cricket World Cup semifinal against India at 9.30pm tonight, but the forecast is bleak. Here's everything you need to know..
What happens if it rains?
New Zealand's World Cup semifinal could be played over two days – possibly allowing one team to bat in significantly different conditions to the other - should rain play a part in Manchester.
NZME's cricket correspondent Andrew Alderson told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave teams would be forced to return to Old Trafford on the reserve day (Wednesday night, NZT) if the minimum 20 overs per side, that makes up an official ODI, could not be completed.
"It's looking grey, overcast and the thought is that the weather forecast is worsening in Manchester. If there is play today it can always be continued over into tomorrow, the reserve day," Alderson explained.
"So you've got the two-day option and the weather forecast is looking better [for the reserve day]. So, they will presumably be able to get 20 overs in each across those two days. If that wasn't the case, India would go through as the top-ranked team.
"It's [how the split of overs is managed] very fluid over those two days, provided it comes with the usual playing time. As long as they can fit 40 overs in over those two days in some way, shape or form, we'll have a semifinal on our hand at Old Trafford."
Manchester has had some steady overnight rainfall, which could make things tough on the ground staff.
"It's dissapointing 'cause the weather for initially said it would be just in the morning [of the match] and by the time we get to game time, there would be no rain," Alderson said.
"But it looks like it's going to be patchy throughout - at least on the first day of the two possible uses.
"There was rain overnight but the field drains pretty well at Old Trafford, it's a lovely venue. At the moment it's not raining but it's looking pretty bleak."
The latest from the UK Met Office predicts a cloudy day in Manchester with a max temperature of 18degC and increasing showers. The Met Office reports there's a 60 per cent chance of rain at noon (local time), 90 minutes into the match, then a 50 per cent chance at 3pm (2am NZT).
Will the weather impact any decisions at the toss?
Perhaps only if the conditions are drastically suited to bowling. The wise Dylan Cleaver believes that New Zealand's only realistic route to victory is to bowl first, but that is a contrarian take, with most people expecting the toss-winning captain to opt to bat first.
All five teams who have batted first at Old Trafford this World Cup have won, and chasing totals has proved difficult of late in the English conditions. Having said that, the wickets in Manchester have held up well in the second innings – unlike those the Black Caps had to bat second on at Lord's and Chester-le-Street – and while I suspect a toss victory will lead to a call of "We'll have a bat", it might not be as influential a coinflip as previous games.
Will the Black Caps make any changes?
Lockie Ferguson – recovered from a tight hamstring – will come back in, most likely for Tim Southee, with Matt Henry having bowled well against England, and likely to get the nod to open the bowling, where he could be economical early on. Tom Blundell won't play, and Henry Nicholls will likely get a third chance to open the batting alongside Martin Guptill, leaving the only other real selection poser as to whether Ish Sodhi will be picked ahead of Mitchell Santner.
It would be an aggressive move – and Santner has been slightly unlucky this tournament – and for a team without much of a history of aggressive decisions at this Cup, it would be a surprise.
How about India, how will they line up?
India have some selection quandaries too, but they're undoubtedly much better problems to have than the Black Caps' choices.
The main debate lies over the balance of their side – do they opt for their usual two spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal – both players who have shone recently against New Zealand? Do they add an extra seamer, and pick both Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to go alongside Jasprit Bumrah? Does Ravindra Jadeja's strong showing against Sri Lanka and added value as a batsman push him into contention? Pick Kedhar Yadhav in the middle order, or a three-wicketkeeper approach with Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik? Why am I asking so many questions??
Frankly, if Rohit Sharma (a record five centuries at this World Cup), Virat Kohli (the greatest ODI batsman of all time) and Bumrah (the world's No 1 ODI bowler) keep up their form, all those questions may not matter.
When you put it that way, it's going to be tough … Can the Black Caps win?
They definitely have a chance, but it's a rather slim one. They've shown in Hamilton this summer (bowling India out for 92) and in their World Cup warm-up match in May (rolling them for 172) just how dangerous they can be at their best, but that's what they'll need to produce - their best.
New Zealand need to nail several key areas – at least 10, in fact. *Cooking infomercial voice:* Here's something I prepared a little earlier about how they can pull off a major upset.
If this happens to be our last "All You Need To Know", could you send us out with an absurd take?
With pleasure. This might sound crazy, but I think Colin de Grandhomme needs to bowl close to 10 overs if the Black Caps are to have their maximum chance of winning.
The rationale – if de Grandhomme is a legitimate bowling option, that likely means the ball is swinging. And to trouble this immense Indian batting lineup, the Black Caps will surely need the ball to swing, and de Grandhomme and Boult to repeat their sensational swinging display from Seddon Park earlier this year. If there's little swing on offer, I'm not sure the Black Caps bowling options have enough firepower outside of Boult and Ferguson to make the breakthroughs required – unless the batsman finally stand up.
It would certainly be timely if they did.
Just as loony a take as I was hoping for. Ok, finally - how can I follow the game tonight?
Radio Sport will have live commentary of the game, and we will have live updates on nzherald.co.nz from around 8.00pm, including insights of varying quality from yours truly at the ground as we build up for the Black Caps' biggest game in four years. Enjoy.
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