The Indian cricket team is set to take on New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final, starting June 18 at The Ageas Bowl.

The Indian cricket team is set to take on New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final, starting June 18 at The Ageas Bowl. India had reached the WTC final after winning their last two Test assignments against Australia and England. India topped the WTC table on the basis of points and points percentage. Meanwhile, New Zealand gained qualification after Australia decided to cancel their tour of South Africa owing to coronavirus restrictions despite agreeing to tour the nation early on.

Going into this match, India will feel confident after their performances in the last two series. They have a settled unit and the return of several high-profile players have benefited the side. Recently, India named a 15-member squad for the WTC final, picking five pacers and two in the same. India will need to get the desired balance and decide upon how to go about the selection. The management will need to take a call on whether to go with a 6-5 strategy, including two spinners and three pacers. The other option could be a safe 7-4 option, picking three pacers and a spinner, besides one extra batsman for the cushion.

The New Zealand cricket team is flying high at the moment. The Kane Williamson-led side will consider themselves as favourites. The 1-0 win over England will give the unit that extra bit of confidence. Besides, New Zealand had tamed India back home in 2020 and that performance will also help them in terms of knowledge and understanding. New Zealand’s strength is their bowling and the conditions could help them in causing plenty of issues for the Indian batters. New Zealand have an in-form side and the bowling pack has the edge over the Indians.

Here we present all the necessary details to guide you through.

Key details of the match

The match is set to be held at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, Wales. It’s scheduled to start at 3:30 PM IST. Fans can watch the action live on the Star Sports Network in their preferred languages. One can also stream the match live on the Disney+ Hotstar app (paid subscription).

Here’s the preview

India will look up to Rohit Sharma for his experience at the top. The senior Indian batsman doesn’t have the desired experience in England when it comes to Test matches. However, he can use his white-ball experience. Leaving deliveries and negotiating the swing will be key for Rohit. Shubman Gill got a decent eight-plus knock in the intra-squad simulation match. He has the character to be aggressive and watchful at the same time. The batting will depend largely on Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane. Their collective exploits could be massive. Rishabh Pant has shown tremendous courage and determination of late, settling into this side easily. India need to decide on going with Hanuma Vihari or choosing both Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin. All-rounder Jadeja is a must, so the choice will be between Vihari and Ash. The pace attack looks sound, however, there is another headache in selection here in between Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami.

New Zealand deserve all the praise for their recent show against England. They were the better side across both Tests and sealed the right moments. Devon Conway’s dream start to his Test career is something that will be a factor for the Kiwis. Alongside Tom Latham, New Zealand pose a threat at the top. The middle-order gets a boost as Williamson returns after an elbow injury. With Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, and BJ Watling adding more depth in that middle-order, NZ are sound. The all-round attributes of Kyle Jamieson will be massive. He will enjoy bowling against Team India. Ajaz Patel will be the lone spinner. He did a sound job in the second Test against England. The pace attack has what it takes to ask Indian batters the questions. Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, and Tim Southee will ride on their collective understanding and experience to attack the Indian batting.

Probable playing XIs: India vs New Zealand

India probable playing XI

Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

New Zealand probable playing XI

Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

Dream11 team prediction (option 1)

India had reached the WTC final after winning their last two Test assignments against Australia and England.

Batsmen: Devon Conway, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli, Ross Taylor, Rishabh Pant

All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja

Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee

Dream11 team prediction (option 2)

New Zealand gained qualification after Australia decided to cancel their tour of South Africa owing to coronavirus restrictions.

Batsmen: Devon Conway, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli, Ross Taylor, Rishabh Pant

All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja

Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ishant Sharma

Which players can be the top picks in the Dream11 team?

In batting, the likes of Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson are a must in the line-up. Both are big-game players and carry the most important weightage in their respective batting departments. Both players also have the pedigree to blunt the best of attacks and get big scores. Their 50-plus averages in Test cricket are a testament to the same.

Ravindra Jadeja is a best fit in terms of being the all-rounder of this fantasy side. Jadeja is a real deal on the field and is always in the game with his attributes. He can get you the desired wickets with his probing left-arm spin. With the bat, Jadeja has really improved in Test cricket and he brings the sensibility and calmness at number seven.

In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult are a must. Bumrah is India’s best bet and he has a terrific record away from home. He is helpful in the conditions and gets his aggression going. Boult will relish the conditions. He is one of the best swing bowlers in world cricket and what the left-arm quick promises is wickets. He also has a great understanding with Southee and together they can cause issues.

Dream11 fantasy: Captain Choices

Virat Kohli: The obvious name that comes to the mind is Kohli, who is India’s best asset. Kohli, who has scored 7,490 runs in Tests, is 10 short of getting to 7,500. He will become only the sixth Indian batter to achieve this mark. Also, Kohli has scored 727 runs in 10 Test matches on English soil. He has two centuries and three fifties.

Trent Boult: The Kiwi speedster has what it takes to give you the maximum points. He impressed in the 2nd Test against England, claiming six wickets in total. Boult has 287 Test scalps, including 36 against India, On English soil, he has 27 wickets so far from five Test matches at just 22.40. He will prove to be quite helpful.

Dream11 fantasy: Vice-captain Choices

In terms of vice-captaincy, Jadeja and Taylor come as viable options. Jadeja will throw a price on his wicket, besides offering substance with the ball. He is an excellent fielder and can account for run outs and terrific catches. A busy player, Jadeja is an important pick. Meanwhile, veteran batsman Taylor has what it takes to provide a shield in the New Zealand middle-order. His immense experience and wisdom will play a factor in giving NZ the desired advantage.

Other choices: Devon Conway and Rishabh Pant.

Pitch report and conditions

The pitch will offer pace, carry and the desired bounce especially on the first three days of the match. The last two days will see the pitch soften up and that’s where spin might come into play. India could therefore be tempted to have both Ash and Jaddu. Previous encounters here have shown us spin enjoying its role. There is a faint chance of rain in the course of the match. But the build-up will be greeted with sunny conditions.

Stadium stats

There have been seven totals of 300-plus at this venue. India have got scores of 330, 273, 184, and 178 in the two Tests played here. New Zealand haven’t played at this venue.

Head-to-head record

India have won 21 Tests as compared to 12 by New Zealand. Notably, 26 Tests have ended in draws.

Match prediction

Both teams are strong and there is quality on offer. New Zealand are the in-form side with the better bowling combinations and we feel they might edge past India here.

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