The time has come for the curtains to be raised on the inaugural ICC World Test Championship that was started in 2019. From June 18 at Southampton’s Rose Bowl, the first WTC final will be played between, fittingly, the top two teams in Test cricket: India and New Zealand.
Certainly both the teams have ample amount of talent and determination in their respective players. According to me, New Zealand will have the upper hand in the final against India since they have been in England for longer, and have just played two Test matches against the hosts. Over the weekend, New Zealand won 1-0 to claim their first Test series win in England since 1999.
The Black Caps, as they are fondly called, already have been quite accustomed to English conditions. While we did not see exaggerated swing at Lord’s or Edgbaston in these two Tests, the ball is known to move about early in England and New Zealand’s pacers and batsmen have had far better practice heading into the WTC final than India, who have played all but one match this year at home. Yes, England were depleted in these two Tests but New Zealand are deservedly No 1 in Tests and played like winners, despite their talismanic captain and top-ranked batsman, Kane Williamson, being out injured.
On paper, it is quite hard to differentiate as to will win the WTC final as both teams have loads of talent in all the departments. If India boast the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant, then New Zealand have Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and the latest Test sensation, Devon Conway.
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Similarly, the bowling departments of both sides are filled with skilled bowlers. India have Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The Black Caps will be led by Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson. The fielding department is also evenly matched for both the teams.
Here’s hoping that the two best teams in Test cricket choose their best playing XIs according to the Southampton pitch, so that there will be limitless excitement. This promises to be a cracking final.