Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has underlined the importance of a strong start as the key to the Black Caps' chances of defeating India in tonight's Cricket World Cup semifinal.

While a broad cliché tactically used by every player at the Cup in an attempt to avoid revealing specific gameplans or opposition weaknesses, the "importance of a strong start" perhaps holds more weight as a deciding factor in this particular clash.

The Black Caps have had some shocking starts with the bat – their opening partnership has been the worst at the World Cup – but have found early success with the ball in most of their contests.

Comparatively, India have been excellent in both areas, especially with the bat, having lost just four wickets all tournament in the first 10 overs.


But, aside from the obvious bonus of taking early control of the game, Vettori believes a good start will give extra confidence to the Black Caps, who are coming into the semifinal on the back of consecutive losses to Pakistan, Australia and England.

"A three-match losing streak can evaporate pretty quickly with a great ten overs at the start," Vettori wrote in a column for the ICC.

"Just look at South Africa against Australia this past weekend. The Proteas have been in all sorts of strife this World Cup but the way they started that game gave them huge confidence to go on and get over the line.

"If New Zealand get off to a great start, with bat or ball, the streak will soon be forgotten."

Martin Guptill is averaging 23.71 at the Cricket World Cup with one fifty. Photo /Getty
Martin Guptill is averaging 23.71 at the Cricket World Cup with one fifty. Photo /Getty

Vettori noted that the Indian top order's dominance has meant their middle order has been largely untested, and argues that New Zealand need to be aggressive from ball one.

"If you take early wickets and can get at that Indian middle order then you have a chance.

"But it is all very well saying that, the hard part is actually going out and doing it.

"Some people might have perceived the way India start slowly as cautious, but in fact what is actually happening is India are the best in the business at assessing conditions, working out what a good score is and then batting accordingly.


"They know who they want to attack and when they want to attack. That is a real credit to them as a batting unit because plenty of other teams go out there and just go hard regardless of the conditions. India like to assess it and build what they think is an appropriate score from that."

Once again, the task of claiming wickets is likely to come down to Trent Boult, Vettori argues.

"The key will be Trent Boult, he knows these Indian batsmen extremely well at this point. They have played each other many times in international cricket and the IPL and he, along with Kane [Williamson] and the coaching staff, will have plans in place.

"They have to stay aggressive, bowl to get wickets and let Trent work his magic at the start, in the middle and at the death where his reverse swing, yorkers and now a knuckle ball as well, mark him out as one of the world's premier white-ball bowlers.

"The only problem is India have one of them too in [Jasprit] Bumrah – keep a close eye on their battle because whoever comes out on top will go a long way to putting their team in the final."

Bumrah, who has taken 17 wickets this tournament at an average of 19.5, and a sterling economy rate of 4.4, will be extremely challenging, but Vettori believes England. in their group stage win over India, displayed a path which the Black Caps could follow to victory.

"Bumrah is basically unplayable at this stage, and against England he was his usual economical self.

"But despite that, England targeted everyone else. They were aggressive from the off against the spinners, against Hardik Pandya, and they even got to Mohammed Shami at the death as well.

"The Black Caps have the plan in place to post something big, it just all needs to come together at the right time."

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':