New Zealand will take on India in the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final. The match will be played at the Rose Bowl Stadium, a.k.a. Ageas Bowl, Southampton from June 18-22.
The no.1 Test team in the world, New Zealand sealed their spot in the final after defeating Pakistan 2-0 in a home Test series. India, on the other hand, defeated England 3-1 in a home series to earn a spot in the ICC World Test Championship final.
While Virat Kohli and his men sealed the top spot in the WTC table after wins over Australia and England, Kane Williamson and Co. narrowly pipped Trans-Tasman rivals, Australia, and the host of the final, England, after beating Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Both teams have showcased their class during the ICC WTC which started back in 2019. In the meantime, here are 6 players to watch out for the marquee clash:
6. Tim Southee (New Zealand)
Veteran pacer Tim Southee has been a phenomenal bowler for New Zealand in ICC WTC. He is the leading wicket-taker for New Zealand in the tournament and 5th most overall. In 20 innings, he has scalped 51 wickets, including three five-fors.
And with the experience and pace he has, Southee has all the tools in his arsenal to trouble any batsman, regardless of the conditions.
5. Mohammed Siraj (India)
After making a dream debut in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, Mohammed Siraj got an opportunity to lead India’s pace attack in Brisbane when all the frontline pacers were unavailable.
The 5-Test-old pacer has scalped 16 wickets including 12 in the series Down Under. The Hyderabad-born pacer can surely trouble the New Zealand batting line-up with his extra pace and swing, subject to him getting a chance in the playing.
4. Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
The Kiwi is the leading run-scorer for New Zealand in ICC WTC. He has scored 817 runs in 14 innings, including 3 tons and 2 half-centuries in the tournament. He also has a couple of double tons to his name, that came against West Indies and Pakistan on home soil.
Since the bowlers are likely to get a lot of help from the track, New Zealand will hope that their skipper can provide a solid start at the top. He is another player to watch out for in the marquee clash.
3. Virat Kohli (India)
Ajinkya Rahane (1095) and Rohit Sharma (1030) are leading the run-scoring charts for India in the WTC but Virat Kohli is still the main man. He is likely to play a huge part in the outcome of the final.
Since the condition for batting won’t be as appropriate as in India and Australia, Virat Kohli’s composure is likely to steer them all the way through to lifting the inaugural WTC final title. He is likely to get extra motivation from the fact that he has not scored a century in any format for more than 18 months.
2. Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand)
The lanky pacer has showcased fabulous bowling skills for New Zealand in WTC. He has played 12 innings so far and grabbed 36 wickets. The 26-year-old has also registered a five-wicket haul in an innings four times and 10 wicket-haul once.
After Southee, he is the second-highest wicket-taker for the Blackcaps. Also, standing at 6 ft 8 inches (2.03 m), Jamieson will cause trouble with his height, as he is likely to get extra bounce from the track.
1. Rishabh Pant (India)
Rishabh Pant silenced his critics by scoring runs for fun against Australia and England. So far in the WTC final, Pant has scored 662 runs in 18 innings, including 1 century and 4 half-centuries.
However, the biggest challenge of his Test career is yet to come. It will be interesting to see whether the 23-year-old can continue his rich run of form in the marquee clash, followed by the Test series against England, starting in August.