As the cricketing world moves closer to see the inaugural final of the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021, cric fans are surely eager to watch India vs New Zealand clash to unfold. India led by Virat Kohli and New Zealand under Kane Williamson will battle in WTC final of what can be the most-anticipated match just before the T20 World Cup. The five-day match is set to start on June 18 and will be hosted at The Rose Bowl Stadium in Southampton, England in a bio-secure bubble.
Both the teams look well-settled with a strong batting and bowling combination. Finally, a lot of players will be in focus who can turn the tables for their respective sides. The likes India skipper Virat Kohli along with experienced Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane can play their roles to perfection for the team. On the other side, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson along with new-recruit Devon Conway, Ross Taylor will be assigned to perform responsibly.
Before India and New Zealand clash in the debut final of the World Test Championship (WTC), here we take a look at battles to watch out in this heavyweight encounter:
Jasprit Bumrah vs Kane Williamson
This is one of the best battles to watch out for. World’s best bowler vs world’s best batsman. After missing the entirety of the Test series against England in home, India pacer Jasprit Bumrah would aim to make a solid comeback in the WTC final. He did not have the top bowling against Australia and recent injuries have also his progress in Test cricket. However, he can still trouble anyone as big as NZ captain Kane Williamson.
Williamson is presently the top-ranked batsman in the ICC Men's Test Rankings while Bumrah is the highest-ranked Indian speedstar. The right-handed batsman has a strong technique against the moving ball and possesses the ability to counter the likely threat posed by the Indian pace attack. Looking at the bowling-friendly conditions, he will also aim to spend long hours at the crease.
Thus, it will be interesting to see how Williamson will tackle Bumrah on the English soil. Bumrah with his speed will positively enjoy the seam in Southampton against Williamson. If India wants to win the WTC final, Jasprit Bumrah needs to bounce back with his form.
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
Just one month back, the duo was sharing the dressing room with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rohit Sharma, and Trent Boult now will face each other in the final of WTC. It is an obvious fact that Rohit Sharma is by and large not comfortable against swings and Trent Boult will be hoping to utilise the same. Though the world has seen Rohit improvising exponentially to open the innings in Test matches, the fact is, he is yet to show his class and convert big in overseas conditions as an opener.
With 1030 runs, Ro-hit Sharma is the second-highest run-scorer for India and sixth overall in the WTC. He has scored four tons and two half-centuries. The right-handed opener also has a double-century to his name.
On the other side, left-arm pacer Trent Boult, is the third-highest wicket-taker for the Kiwis in the WTC with 34 wickets in 9 games. He will once lead the charge of pace department to bag important wickets at the top, including that of Rohit Sharma. In the event that the Rose Bowl pitch sets up a greenish-tinge on match day, expect that Boult should be the biggest barricade in India’s star-studded batting lineup.
Virat Kohli vs Tim Southee and Neil Wagner
Indian captain Virat Kohli has been the backbone of the Indian middle-order in Test cricket for quite a few years now. Kohli who has not scored a century from last year and half will look to hit a ton and no big event like this will come in his life again.
It will be interesting how Kohli will deal Tim Southee. The right-arm pacer has been the main adversary of Kohli. He dismissed the Indian skipper twice during their 2-0 home success over India a year ago. Southee is the leading wicket-taker for the Blackcaps in the World Test Championship with 51 wickets and five fifers. With the most recent case, he has dismissed him multiple times across designs, the most achievement any bowler has availed against Kohli. Thrice in tests, multiple times in ODIs, and once in T20Is.
In the WTC final, Kohli will hold the key for India to post a big score in the first innings. The likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner can be expected to come out roaring to prize the big wicket as Kohli will have his task cut out to refute every possible threat from the powerful Kiwi bowling.
R Ashwin vs Tom Latham
Though the WTC final is scheduled to be played on pace-friendly track, one must not forget that India has off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the second-ranked bowler in ICC Test rankings who can surprise any big batsman in the NZ. Earlier this year, Ashwin troubled the Australian batsman followed by Englishmen in Test series on home land. Ashwin is also the third-highest wicket-taker in WTC with 67 wickets in his bag. The off-spinner averages 16.98 for his 48 wickets against the Black Caps. He also has 6 five-wicket hauls against the Williamson and co.- the joint-most for him against any team.
It will be interesting to see how New Zealand deputy skipper Tom Latham will tackle Ashwin in the final. The south-paw has been a delight to watch over the past few years. The man who also led the team in Williamson’s absence a couple of times, is currently the 12th ranked player in the ICC Test rankings for batsmen.