India and New Zealand will battle it out for supremacy in Test cricket when they lock horns in the summit clash of the World Test Championship in Southampton. These two have been the best teams for a while now and deserved a place in the final. Having already played a series against England hands a slight advantage to New Zealand. However, their record away from home ( two wins in the last 15 years) is not something to boast about.
India, on the other hand, haven’t had a lot of practice ahead of the showpiece event but they have shown a remarkable ability to fight back from adversity and come into the match on the back of consecutive series wins over Australia and England.
The Virat Kohli-led side had confirmed that Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill will be opening the innings for them. They’ll be followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Pujara especially will be the key for India in English conditions. Virat Kohli hasn’t scored a century since 2019 and wouldn’t mind if it comes in the WTC final. Ajinkya Rahane too needs to raise his game a notch. The Indian vice-captain averaged 22.75, 38.29 and 18.67 in his last three series against New Zealand, Australia and England respectively.
Rishabh Pant is in the form of his life and along with Ravindra Jadeja and possibly Ravichandran Ashwin add a lot of depth to the team. While Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami are almost certain to start, India will have to choose between Mohammad Siraj and Ishant Sharma as the third pacer. If India opts for just one spinner, they can field all four pacers.
Kane Williamson’s team can create history and claim their maiden ICC title. The odds are in their favour and the series win against England must have boosted their confidence. Devon Conway has made a sizzling start to his Test career and smacked a double hundred on debut. Not much need to be said about Kane Williamson and the class he posses. Tom Latham is another batsman who has a great record against India. Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, and BJ Watling add a lot of quality to the batting order.
Positions 7 and 8 are the real points of discussion. Ajaz Patel has done well but will New Zealand want to play him against India ahead of Santner? Colin de Grandhomme versus Daryl Mitchell is also a tough call. New Zealand have a tough job of picking the three pacers from the pool of talented pacers. All are match-winners on their day but Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner should be their preferred combination. They may also consider playing four seamers and play one of Matt Henry or Kyle Jamieson at the cost of an all-rounder.
The pitch curator has confirmed that they are trying to make a fast and bouncy surface for the WTC final which means that there will be lot on offer for the pacers to work with. The wicket will be tough to bat on Day 1 but should ease out as the match progresses.
Match – New Zealand vs India– WTC final
Venue – The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Time – 03:00 PM IST
Where to watch live – Star Sports Network, Hotstar
Played – 59 | India – 21 | New Zealand– 12 | N/R – 26
India Probable XI
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
New Zealand Probable XI
Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ajaz Patel, Neil Wagner