The inaugural edition of the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand will be played in Southampton’s Ageas Bowl from June 18-22. Both the teams, India and New Zealand, topped the points table to set up a marquee clash.
Virat Kohli and his men played 6 Test series, winning 12 matches and losing 4 matches (PCT of 72.2 per cent). Kane Williamson and Co., on the other hand, played 5 Test series, winning 7 matches and losing 4 matches PCT of 70 per cent.
Both squads are filled with world-class players. While New Zealand might’ve trounced India when they visited the Kiwi nation last year, both teams will be hard to separate this time out as the final is being played at a neutral venue.
But one thing can be assured that this marquee clash has a nail-biter written all over it. In the meantime, here are 5 player battles to watch out for in the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand:
5. R Ashwin and T Latham
Veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is currently the second-ranked bowler in ICC Test rankings with 850 points. He troubled the Australian batsman with his bowling skills before doing the same with the England batting line-up in the home test series, earlier this year. He is also the third-highest wicket-taker in WTC with 67 wickets.
New Zealand vice-captain Tom Latham has been a delight to watch over the past few years. Apart from leading the team in Williamson absence a couple of times, Latham has scored runs for fun as well. He is currently the 12th ranked player in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen. It will be interesting to see how Latham will tackle Ashwin in the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final.
4. Kyle Jamieson and Rishabh Pant
Ever since he made his Test debut against India on home soil last year, Kyle Jamieson’s rapid rise has been a treat for viewers. Standing at 6’8”, Jamieson has troubled the likes of Virat Kohli among others in his short but successful Test career. So far in the WTC, Jamieson has bagged 36 wickets, which includes four fifers and a 10 wicket-haul.
Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, silenced his critics by taking the Australian bowlers and the English bowlers. He has smashed a total of 662 runs in 18 innings, including 1 century and 4 half-centuries. His rich run of form has seen him rise to a career-high sixth rank in the ICC Test rankings. But, the question is whether Pant can provide the same justice to Jamieson?
3. Jasprit Bumrah and Kane Williamson
After missing the entirety of the Test series against England on home soil, Bumrah would aim to make a strong comeback in whites as India gear up to face New Zealand. He did not have the best of outings against Australia and recent injuries have also his progress in Test cricket. However, he can still trouble anyone on a given day considering his sheer pace.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, on the other hand, is the leading run-scorer for New Zealand in the tournament with 817 runs in 14 innings. He has two double tons, three centuries and 2 fifties to his name so far. It will be interesting to see how he will tackle Jasprit Bumrah and Co. in the upcoming clash.
2. Tim Southee and Virat Kohli
Tim Southee has been an arch-nemesis of Virat Kohli, having dismissed the latter time 10 times which more than any other bowler in the circuit. He dismissed the Indian skipper twice during their 2-0 home win over the India team last year. Southee is the leading wicket-taker for the Blackcaps in the WTC with 51 scalps, include five fifers.
Kohli, meanwhile, has not scored a century in any format for more than 18 months. Though the condition won’t be appropriate to bat long in Southampton, Kohli does holds a decent record at the Rose Bowl. So, the question is, can Kohli can get the better of Southee and Co. this time out?
1. Trent Boult and Rohit Sharma
Veteran opening batsman Rohit Sharma is the second-highest run-scorer for India and 6th overall in the WTC with 1030 runs. He has slammed four centuries and two half-centuries. The 33-year-old also has a double-ton to his name. Not only that, he has been India’s main source of runs at the top of the order.
Left-arm pacer Trent Boult, on the other hand, is the third-highest wicket-taker for the Blackcaps in the WTC with 34 wickets in 9 games. He will once again have the baton in his hands to scalp important wickets at the top, including one of his Mumbai Indians skipper and teammate Rohit Sharma.