India and New Zealand will meet in the historic World Test Championship Final 2021. All the hard work of two years will be at stake for two nations.
Match Timings: June 18, 3:30 PM IST
Southampton is ready to welcome India and New Zealand to decide the first winner of the ICC World Test Championship. The tournament started in 2019 and after two years, we have two deserving finalists. New Zealand even justified their top ranking by defeating England in the away series, meanwhile, India created history in Australia this year with 2-1 success. Both sides even faced each other in WTC and New Zealand won both matches. The venue will be neutral so it will be a tough task for both sides. After the gap of 23 months, we will witness an ICC event final. Surprisingly, New Zealand were also there in Lord’s when the last final was played.
India arrived in Southampton earlier and they played an intra-squad match where Pant scored a hundred and Gill scored fine 85. It’s a positive sign for the team as both youngsters are fresh and in good touch. Gill is likely to open with Rohit and Jadeja will also join the XI after missing out the England series. Southampton’s surface helps the spin on day 4 and day 5 so India will add both quality spinners Jadeja and Ashwin. Saha and Vihari will miss out again. There will be another confusion between Siraj and Ishant. Ishant might get the nod due to his experience. Bumrah and Shami will be India’s two frontline pacers.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will be back after a series win and Kane will lead the side that missed out the second Test against England due to injury. Ajaz Patel will replace injured Santner as the main spinner and Watling will also be back after the injury. The wicket-keeper batsman will play his final international game. New Zealand will retain Conway for this game and Blundell will miss out again. Williamson will go with four pacers Southee, Jamieson, Boult, and Wagner. Southampton will help them, especially in the morning session. They all had an impressive journey in WTC.
Both sides look strong on paper and their previous success is remarkable. England’s surface suits New Zealand’s style and they beat the English side in the previous assignment but if spin plays a major role on the final two days then India can also surprise them. It will be a game between India’s batting and New Zealand’s bowling. Morning sessions will be important for bowlers and it requires a sensible approach to deal with the pressure in this big final. If we look at the number then India’s last win against New Zealand in ICC’s knockout game came in 2003 and their last ICC trophy came in 2013. New Zealand’s last ICC trophy was Champions Trophy 21 years ago. It’s a longer format of cricket and both are sitting at the top two positions in Test rankings so the game will be cracking.
Southampton’s surface is a good batting wicket but it changes its mood later the match progresses. Spin can take some help on day 4 and day 5. Pacers will be impactful on the first 3 days especially in morning sessions. There is a rain prediction as well so the overcast conditions will be helpful for fast bowlers.
Shubhman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah,
Kane Williamson (C), Trent Boult, Devon Conway, BJ Watling (WK), Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner
Top-scorer of last Test assignment in England, top-ranked Indian batsman in Test rankings
Southampton’s track suits his style and will be crucial for India in opening sessions
He has troubled the Indian side earlier and overcast condition will give him the option of swing
He has been a consistent player in all formats and can get a big score in a pressure game