South Africa may have to win all of their remaining group-stage matches to earn a place in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals and Faf du Plessis' side face two tricky challenges this week.

The Proteas lost their first three games at this tournament, belatedly getting a point on the board with a washout against West Indies before picking up their first win thanks to a comfortable triumph over Afghanistan last week.

But things certainly do not get any easier for South Africa over the coming seven days, as they take on an unbeaten New Zealand and a mercurial Pakistan, who desperately need a win themselves following Sunday's resounding defeat to fierce rivals India.

Virat Kohli's side look the strongest all-round outfit in the competition and they should pick up another victory against Afghanistan, who also face hosts England in a tough week for the only team yet to claim a point.

 

FIXTURES

Monday 17 June:  West Indies v Bangladesh (Taunton) - 1030 BST start

Tuesday 18 June:  England v Afghanistan (Old Trafford) - 1030

Wednesday 19 June:  New Zealand v South Africa (Edgbaston) - 1030

Thursday 20 June:  Australia v Bangladesh (Trent Bridge) - 1030

Friday 21 June:  England v Sri Lanka (Headingley) - 1030

Saturday 22 June:  India v Afghanistan (the Rose Bowl) - 1030, West Indies v New Zealand (Old Trafford) - 1330

Sunday 23 June:  Pakistan v South Africa (Lord's) - 1030

 

THE WEEK'S BIG GAME

With over half their matches played and only three points to their name, South Africa can ill-afford any slip-ups. Their first assignment of the week comes against the Black Caps on Wednesday, in a repeat of the thrilling semi-final from four years ago that saw New Zealand squeeze through. If the Proteas can dish out a first defeat of the tournament to Kane Williamson's side, they will go into Sunday's clash against an erratic Pakistan with renewed hope of securing a top-four finish.

STANDINGS

1. Australia - 8pts from 5 games, Net Run Rate +0.812
2. New Zealand - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +2.163
3. India - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +1.029
4. England - 6pts from 4 games, NRR +1.557
5. Sri Lanka - 4pts from 5 games, NRR -1.778
6. West Indies - 3pts from 4 games, NRR +0.666
7. South Africa - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -0.208
8. Bangladesh - 3pts from 4 games, NRR -0.714
9. Pakistan - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -1.933
10. Afghanistan - 0pts from 4 games, NRR -1.638

 

LEADING RUN-SCORERS

1: Aaron Finch (Aus) - 343
2: Rohit Sharma (Ind) - 319
3: David Warner (Aus) - 281

 

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS

=1: Mohammad Amir (Pak), Mitchell Starc (Aus) - 13
2: Pat Cummins (Aus) - 11

Sarfraz Ahmed insists Pakistan must continue to back themselves even as their Cricket World Cup hopes grow slimmer by the day.

Pakistan lost a crunch clash with India by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, leaving Sarfraz's side struggling on just three points from five matches.

The 1992 champions will now face a tall order to qualify for the semi-finals regardless of their remaining results, but Sarfraz is not ready to give up hope.

"It's definitely getting tougher and tougher but we have to back ourselves," the Pakistan captain said in the post-match presentation.

"We have four matches so we'll try our level best to win all four matches. I'm sure we will bounce back."

Sarfraz defended his tactics with the ball, despite seeing Rohit Sharma hit 140 in another superb batting display for India.

The Pakistan skipper explained: "We have a plan to bowl in the right areas - especially for Rohit, pitch up to the ball. But I thought we didn't hit the right areas.

"We won a good toss but didn't capitalise and that's why we conceded so many runs.

"If you see the pitch and the ball is turning, that's why we picked two spinners, because of the moisture. They bowled really well but credit goes to the Indian batting, especially the middle part - they're batting really well."

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to miss India's next two to three games at the Cricket World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury against Pakistan.

India cruised to an 89-run win over their arch rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday, triumphing on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method as Pakistan could only reach 212-6 in a rain-affected run chase after Virat Kohli's side cruised to 336-5.

However, paceman Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field while bowling the fifth over of Pakistan's chase, with his replacement Vijay Shankar trapping Imam-ul-Haq lbw with his first ball.

India will be heavy favourites for their upcoming matches with Afghanistan and West Indies, and Bhuvneshwar is poised to miss those games, and potentially the blockbuster clash with hosts England at Edgbaston.

Speaking at the post-match presentation, captain Virat Kohli said of Bhuvneshwar's injury: "Slight niggle, it was because of slipping on the footmarks, so it doesn't look too serious at the moment.

"We're going to give it some time, hopefully he'll be ready in a couple of games, if not, max three games from now.

"He's going to be a very important factor for us so hopefully he can recover well in time. We've got [Mohammed] Shami ready and raring to go so we're not too worried about where the situation stands even after he got injured.

"I think the way the bowlers took responsibility was really good to see. Bhuvi should be fine, he feels the niggle is not too bad, time will heal it."

Rohit Sharma scored a sublime 140, becoming the fourth India player to tally 50-plus in five successive ODIs, recording partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs in the 50-over game in 54 fewer innings than Sachin Tendulkar en route to 77.

Kohli added: "The template's been really nice in the first three games, Rohit single-handedly playing that brilliant knock in the first [against South Africa], second [against Australia] was again a team batting effort, this one as well, Rohit's knock was outstanding but you could say to get 335, 340, 350 you need a team batting effort and that's what exactly what happened.

"KL set a good foundation with Rohit, then Rohit after getting to 75 was unstoppable and he showed why he's such a good ODI player again, then it allowed me to play a certain kind of role and Hardik [Pandya] can come in and explode, that's the kind of template we've followed and it's working now, it gives us a lot of solidity in the middle.

"I'm happy playing that role for the team, the other guys are doing their role perfectly. It's going really nicely."

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli enjoyed landmark days as India routed Pakistan to severely dent their rivals' Cricket World Cup hopes.

Unbeaten at this World Cup, with a washout against New Zealand the only game in which they have not taken maximum points, India demolished Pakistan by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, with Rohit producing a sublime 140 to help India reach 336-5 at Old Trafford.

In doing so he became the fourth player to score 50 or more in five straight innings for India and compiled respective partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul (57) and Virat Kohli (77), who reached 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Pakistan were initially solid if unspectacular in response, but perhaps the most unpredictable side in limited-overs cricket were unable to reproduce the kind of performance that saw them shock England in their only win of the tournament as they crumbled from 117-1 to 165-6.

Kuldeep Yadav removed the productive pairing of Babar Azam (48) and Fakhar Zaman (62). A brilliant delivery through the gate denied Babar a half-century before Fakhar gave the spinner his second scalp with an ill-advised sweep.

Pakistan's middle order wilted in the face of quick bowling from all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, leaving the tail with a mountainous test they were never likely to pass. 

Hardik took two wickets in two balls and Shankar followed up the dismissal of Imam-ul-Haq, which he claimed first ball upon replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar after he went off with hamstring tightness, by bowling Sarfraz Ahmed.

Rain that had briefly delayed the conclusion of India's innings arrived again, with the stoppage leading to the bizarre spectacle of Pakistan needing 136 off five overs when they returned for a near-impossible chase of a revised 40-over target of 302.

India moved up to third and remain on course for the semi-finals ahead of a meeting with winless Afghanistan, while Pakistan's fading hopes will hinge heavily on their forthcoming clash with South Africa.

ROHIT GIVEN HELPING HAND

Rohit has not needed any assistance during his superb run of form, but he made the most of a pair of huge let-offs early in his latest exhibition of batting prowess as Pakistan missed two run-out opportunities in successive overs.

First Fakhar threw to the wrong end as Rohit made the rash decision to run two, and Shadab Khan then missed with his throw when a direct hit would have seen the opener out on 38.

He went on to reach his century in just 85 balls and hit 14 fours and three maximums before flicking Hasan Ali to short leg.

In scoring five successive ODI fifties for India Rohit joins the elite company of Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs with a glanced four but made the bemusing decision to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir.

FAKHAR AGAIN AT FAULT

Any hopes Pakistan had of completing a difficult chase went with the exits of Babar and Fakhar.

There was little Babar could do to avoid being clean bowled by a stunner from Kuldeep, but Fakhar's top-edged sweep that presented Yuzvendra Chahal with a dolly was poorly judged and poorly executed.

That set in motion a dismal collapse from Pakistan, for whom the DLS scoreline of their seventh defeat in as many World Cup games with India was flattering.

Ultimately, the most eagerly awaited fixture at the 2019 Cricket World Cup ended in a comfortable win for favourites India against their fiercest foes Pakistan.

This – at a raucous, rowdy and sometimes rainy Old Trafford – was a triumph for cold, calm efficiency over a more impassioned, excitable approach.

Ahead of Sunday's momentous meeting in Manchester, India captain Virat Kohli faced the media and repeatedly played down the size of the occasion, insisting he and his squad would treat it no differently to any other ODI.

"In our minds, nothing changes according to the opposition," he said on Saturday. "We're only focused on playing the type of cricket we're known for, not singling out any player from the opposition or focusing more on one particular player than the other."

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur, meanwhile, took an altogether different tack.

"It doesn't get bigger," he told his news conference. "It doesn't get more exciting. I'm telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero.

"Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible, you'll be remembered forever."

One can understand Arthur's attempts to fire up his erratic side; India-Pakistan games come around all too infrequently, but Kohli sensed no such need to issue a similar rallying cry.

And those opposing attitudes were borne out when the action got under way as India set about ruthlessly compiling a total of 336-5 that Pakistan never looked likely to reach, even when Bhuvneshwar Kumar exited with a hamstring injury after he had sent down just 2.4 overs.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam briefly threatened to heed Arthur's words and attain hero status, but when Kuldeep Yadav accounted for both and Hardik Pandya ousted Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik from successive balls, Pakistan had lost four for 12 and eventually toiled to 212-6 following a rain break, leaving them well short of their DLS target.

Under overcast skies, Sarfraz Ahmed had opted to put Kohli's side in to bat and one could sense Pakistan's desperation to make best use of seemingly favourable conditions – such anxiety perhaps the result of having lost all six previous World Cup meetings with their neighbours.

But while Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul set about their task with quiet confidence, Pakistan grew increasingly ragged.

Rohit ought to have been run out twice in successive overs while he was still in the 30s – misses that proved decidedly costly as the opener cruised to an almost effortless century off 85 balls before perishing for 140.

Pakistan, by contrast, were looking ever more agitated. Wahab Riaz and Sarfraz were unhappy to see the left-armer warned for running on the pitch, while a number of fumbles in the outfield prompted double-teapots aplenty among the men in green as the relentless Rohit accumulated his runs.

Rohit's knock was a clinic in punishing poor bowling, and even his departure only cleared the stage for Kohli to claim a slice of history.

His fluent 77 saw him pass 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings, usurping Sachin Tendulkar as the fastest man to that milestone. The Little Master needed 276.

Kohli's achievement was met with an almighty roar from the hordes of India supporters, who outnumbered their counterparts by perhaps four to one and were encouraged by their captain to become fully swept up in the occasion, in contrast to the message sent to his players.

"Look, I can't tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner," Kohli had said. "For us, it's a professional approach to the game, which is most important.

"They [fans] should enjoy the atmosphere. They should enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it's been enjoyed for years, but the players obviously have to maintain the mindset we have for years approaching any kind of game."

Kohli certainly saw both of those wishes granted. The Bharat Army revelled in a resounding win over their great rivals in the stands, while on the field India's cold, calculated charge towards the World Cup semi-finals continued unchecked.

Vijay Shankar was called into emergency action by India following Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury and claimed the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq with his first ball.

Chasing 337 for victory in the crunch Cricket World Cup clash at Old Trafford, Pakistan were 13-0 with two balls left of the fifth over when Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field.

The seamer did not seem in undue discomfort as he walked back to the changing room, with captain Virat Kohli calling on Shankar to send down the remaining deliveries in the over.

And Shankar – selected in the side as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan – trapped Imam lbw to give India an early breakthrough.

It was just the all-rounder's third ODI wicket in his 10th appearance, having picked up two in a match against Australia in Nagpur in March.

Rohit Sharma's commanding 140 put India firmly on top against Pakistan as Virat Kohli's side racked up 336-5 at a deafening Old Trafford.

Sunday's encounter between the two fierce rivals was the most eagerly anticipated of this Cricket World Cup and Rohit thrived on the grandest of stages.

After India were put in by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Rohit combined in a first-wicket stand of 136 with KL Rahul, who made 57 having been promoted to open due to Shikhar Dhawan's injury-enforced absence.

Once Rahul departed, Rohit brought up his second century of the tournament – following his unbeaten 122 against South Africa – off just 85 deliveries, featuring nine fours and three sixes.

He found the ropes five more times before eventually flicking Hasan Ali to short fine-leg to end his 113-ball stay, a dismissal which allowed Kohli to take centre stage.

A glanced four took the India captain to 11,000 ODI runs, reaching the milestone in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Kohli made 77 off 65 - bizarrely opting to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir - as even a late rain interruption did little to halt the momentum of India, seeking to extend their perfect World Cup record against Pakistan to seven wins from seven matches.

Virat Kohli smashed Sachin Tendulkar's record as the quickest man to 11,000 ODI runs during India's Cricket World Cup clash with Pakistan.

The India captain came into Sunday's meeting at a raucous Old Trafford just 57 shy of the landmark, which he reached courtesy of a glanced four off Hasan Ali to help his side to 290-3 having been put in.

Kohli's milestone came up in only his 222nd ODI innings, a remarkable 54 fewer than his compatriot, who needed 276.

Ranked the number-one batsman in the 50-over format, Kohli is the ninth man to reach 11,000 runs and the third from his country after Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

 

List of players to score 11,000+ ODI runs:

Sachin Tendulkar, India, 18,426
Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka, 14,234
Ricky Ponting, Australia, 13,704
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka, 13,430
Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka, 12,650
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan, 11,739
Jacques Kallis, South Africa, 11,579
Sourav Ganguly, India, 11,363
Virat Kohli, India, 11,003*

Vijay Shankar was the man to replace the injured Shikhar Dhawan for India, who were put in to bat by Pakistan for their crunch Cricket World Cup encounter at Old Trafford.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed called correctly on an overcast morning in Manchester, where Shankar represented India's sole change from the victory over Australia a week ago, with Thursday's encounter against New Zealand washed out.

Dhawan injured his hand in the win over defending champions Australia and is set to miss a couple of weeks so KL Rahul was moved up to open, while Shankar was down to come in at number four.

Pakistan, meanwhile, have made two changes from their last outing – also a loss to Australia – with spin duo Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim returning at the expense of Asif Ali and Shaheen Afridi.

Previous World Cup meetings between these two great rivals have been one-sided, with India winning all six such encounters at the tournament.

Virat Kohli wants India to forget about the opposition and instead focus on their own game as they prepare to face rivals Pakistan on Sunday.

Old Trafford is the venue for the Cricket World Cup clash between the two neighbouring countries, though the much-anticipated fixture may be hampered by the Manchester rain.

Bad weather put paid to India's 100 per cent record at this year's tournament when their clash with New Zealand at Trent Bridge was washed out, though they remain in a good position in the race to reach the semi-finals.

Pakistan, by contrast, have managed one win in four outings, while they have never beaten India in six previous World Cup meetings.

Kohli knows an expectant audience, both inside the venue and back home in India, will be watching on, yet called for his players to keep their minds on the job at hand, rather than get carried away by the occasion.

"The fans' point of view is very different," said the India captain. "They should enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it's been enjoyed for years.

"But the players obviously have to maintain the mindset we have for years approaching any kind of game, whether it's India v Pakistan, India v Australia, India v England or South Africa, whoever it is.

"Our mindset remains the same, just to go out there and be professional about our cricket and execute what we're expected to execute, because for us this is a responsibility and people expect us to play a certain way, and that's our focus."

India fielded the same XI in impressive victories over South Africa and Australia but will have to make at least one change this weekend.

Shikhar Dhawan suffered a hairline fracture of his left thumb while making a superb century against Australia at The Oval, meaning KL Rahul is likely to be promoted to open the innings alongside Rohit Sharma.

However, Kohli admitted the conditions – showers are forecast during the day, raising the possibility of a shortened match – could lead to further alterations, potentially with the addition of an extra seamer to the bowling attack.

"We have to be flexible," said the batsman.

"We can't be rigid in our approach because if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we'll have to think of different combinations, which areas to strengthen when it comes to the bowling attack.

"If pace becomes a more important option, then we'll look to explore that. If not, if the length of the game is going to be full and we expect the game to be 50 overs both sides, then we'll probably think of another combination, but we'll have to be flexible.

"We'll have to see how today pans out, how tomorrow the conditions are.

"I think all players are in a zone to be ready to play, so that helps in selecting the combination that you need to, depending on what conditions you're going to face."

Coach Mickey Arthur has told Pakistan to rattle India's top order when the fierce rivals meet at the Cricket World Cup on Sunday.

India are unbeaten at this year's tournament after three fixtures and have never lost a World Cup game to Pakistan, although they were beaten heavily by their neighbours in the 2017 Champions Trophy final in London.

Showers are expected in Manchester with the weather set to have an impact again, India's last match against New Zealand having been rained off.

Pakistan, with one win from their four games, desperately need a victory to boost their qualification chances and Arthur is demanding an aggressive approach in one of sport's biggest fixtures.

"Without wanting to harp too much, that [the Champions Trophy final] was two years ago, but when you get into the Indian top order, you can create a little bit of havoc," he told a news conference.

"There's some fun players all the way down, don't get me wrong, but if you can rattle their top order with the new ball, you certainly have an advantage. That's something that we'll certainly, certainly be trying to work on.

"I'm telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero. Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible [against India], you'll be remembered forever.

"Our mantra is how do you want to be remembered? We've got 15 incredible cricketers in that dressing room, and we keep stressing to them, how do you want to be remembered? You're the class of 2019. What are they going to say about you in history?

"And this presents an unbelievable opportunity for these guys to really make a mark."

Shoaib Malik is yet to make an impact in the tournament, scoring only eight runs in his two innings, but Arthur backed the 37-year-old to fire against India.

"I can tell you a guy that's played over 200 ODIs, tomorrow presents a real opportunity for him," Arthur added.

"Shoaib Malik didn't play [against] the West Indies team because of the balance of the team. He batted in the last three overs against England and failed against Australia.

"So to say he's failed, there's not much of a barometer just yet. That will be determined over the next couple of games. What I do know is Shoaib Malik brings a hell of a lot to our dressing room.

"He is an incredible team man. He has incredible skills, and I'm hoping that, on the biggest stage tomorrow, those skills come to the fore.

"Let's not forget - I mentioned it in one of the previous questions - that it's still a fairly young cricket team. Shoaib Malik's experience, Mohammad Hafeez's experience will go a long way out in the middle to help these young boys through it."

India can take a significant step towards the semi-finals by beating fierce rivals Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup on Sunday.

Virat Kohli's side have looked among the strongest in the tournament to date, while Pakistan have improved after a horror show in their opening seven-wicket loss to West Indies.

India and Pakistan have the biggest rivalry in the sport and both teams will be hoping the weather holds out so a full match can be played in front of a packed crowd in Manchester.

Light showers are forecast for a venue where India beat their neighbours by 47 runs in the 1999 World Cup, although it was Pakistan who would go on to reach the final that year before being outplayed by Australia.

Shikhar Dhawan will not be fit for India as he continues to recover from a hand injury, but Rishabh Pant has trained with the team after being flown in to join the squad.

In seeking a first World Cup win in this fixture, Pakistan could be inspired by their performance in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, where they thumped India by 180 runs at The Oval thanks in part to Fakhar Zaman's century.

But it could be the Manchester weather that holds the key to the game, with rain likely to interrupt and perhaps play a major part in the result.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

India have looked strong, justifying their status among the favourites with wins over South Africa and Australia followed by a washout against New Zealand. Rohit Sharma has been in fine form with the bat, his 179 runs putting him among the top scorers at the tournament, while he has passed 50 in each of his last four ODI appearances.

But Pakistan could be facing an early exit as they have only won one of their four matches so far, beating England in a thriller after being rolled over by West Indies, then seeing a fixture with Sri Lanka rained off. No bowler at the World Cup has more than Mohammad Amir's 10 wickets, but he has failed to claim a single victim in four of six previous ODI appearances against India.

WHAT THEY SAID

India captain Kohli: "If we play well, we can beat anyone. Nothing changes according to the opposition. For the players, it is very important to be professional, be it any team you are up against."

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur: "Obviously, there's a massive hype that's created a lot of the time by the media really. Our guys are prepared. We're ready. We're comfortable that we can get out there and perform, and we are so excited about the opportunity tomorrow."

OPTA FACTS

- India have won all six of their previous Cricket World Cup matches against Pakistan, five of those victories coming having defended a first-innings total.

- Since beating Pakistan at Old Trafford in the 1999 World Cup, India have played just one ODI at the venue in Manchester, losing by three wickets there to England in 2007.

- Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs. Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings; Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.

Virat Kohli is optimistic Shikhar Dhawan still has a part to play in India's quest for Cricket World Cup glory despite suffering a hairline fracture of his left thumb.

Dhawan is expected to miss at least three matches after taking a blow while making a magnificent century in the victory over Australia at The Oval last Sunday.

Rishabh Pant has been called up as cover, but captain Kohli is hopeful we have not seen the last of Dhawan in the tournament.

Speaking after Thursday's match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge was washed out, the skipper said: "Shikhar will be in a plaster for a couple of weeks, we'll assess and see.

"Hopefully he'll be available for the latter half and the semi-finals. He's motivated, we wanted to keep him back."

Kohli felt it was the right decision to call off the match against the Black Caps in a rainy Nottingham.

"It was a sensible decision to not play, given the outfield wasn't fully fit," said Kohli. "One point is not a bad thing for sides that have won all their games so far, so we'll take it."

Kohli is relishing the prospect of facing fierce rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday as India look to take another stride towards the semi-finals.

"For Sunday, we know we're there when it comes to the mindset. It's just about going out there and having a game plan, executing it," he added.

"As soon as you enter the field, it's calm and relaxed. The atmosphere from the outside, for the first time, it's a bit intimidating, but we'll look to execute well.

"It's been competitive for years, it's a marquee event all over the world, an honour to be a part of the big game, which brings out the best in all of us."

India and New Zealand's Cricket World Cup match was abandoned without a ball being bowled on Thursday as the weather caused further disruption. 

Rain throughout the day at Trent Bridge forced the umpires to make the decision to call play off at 15:00 BST.

It is the fourth abandonment at this year's tournament, and the third in four days.

New Zealand are outright leaders on seven points after moving one clear of Australia, while India move third above England, with five points from three matches.

India and New Zealand are ready to put their 100 per cent records on the line on Thursday - but their Cricket World Cup clash could end in soggy fashion at Trent Bridge.

Three straight wins have put New Zealand in a commanding position from which to secure a semi-final place, while India have started with victories over South Africa and Australia.

Yet an inclement forecast suggests the match between the sides risks becoming the latest in this tournament to be washed out, or at least severely hampered by rain.

Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor had an enjoyable spell with Nottinghamshire last season, so on the return to his former home ground he was the ideal candidate to talk about the unpredictability of the British weather.

And that was on Taylor's mind when he arrived in the country with the New Zealand squad, figuring how the World Cup might play out.

"I said at the start of the tournament that luck is going to play a part," Taylor said. "England is a beautiful place, but it's not famous for good weather."

Paceman Tim Southee comes back into contention for New Zealand after missing the early stages of the tournament with a calf complaint.

For India, KL Rahul is set to be pushed up the order to open in place of Shikhar Dhawan, whose satisfaction at making a century against Australia at The Oval last time out was tempered by a thumb injury that looks set to force him out of at least three matches. Vijay Shankar could come in to the middle order.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

New Zealand have beaten Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan so far. India present a greater threat than those early opponents, with both teams hopeful of a deep run in the tournament. India have taken the greater scalps in Australia and South Africa so will look to make another major statement if the rain holds off.

WHAT THEY SAID

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor: "I could mention five or six teams that I think are playing really well, but at the end of the day, we're three for three. Very happy with where we've placed, but we know we've got some bigger challenges ahead the next couple of weeks."

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar, on Rahul moving up the order: "The advantages of playing in various situations is that you understand the game a lot better. If you're a top-order batsman and you get to bat in the middle order, then you get to know the challenges faced by the middle order. So if a player is able to do that - and if you look across the history of the game, players have been very versatile, and here if you can take his namesake Rahul Dravid back at the various positions - it helped the team big time."

OPTA FACTS

- India have won six of their last seven ODIs against New Zealand, including a 35-run victory when they met in February this year – their most recent clash.

- This will be the eighth meeting between India and New Zealand at the World Cup, with six of their previous seven encounters being won by the chasing side on the day. India won three times, New Zealand four.

- New Zealand have won 11 of their last 12 World Cup fixtures - the exception being their loss in the 2015 final - and their last three victories have all come after winning the toss and electing to bowl first.

- Virat Kohli is 57 runs away from becoming the ninth player to score 11,000 ODI runs, Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for being the quickest to reach the milestone at 276 innings, Kohli has played just 221 innings so far.

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