Mumbai: With the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 suspended against the COVID-19 outbreak, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the cricket fans are in action mode straightaway considering the national team which is scheduled to depart to England. Virat Kohli and co are set to play the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship against New Zealand starting June 18 in Southampton.
With no cricket matches before the big final in England, cricket fans are awaiting the probable XI that will battle the Kiwis. Among some well-known faces missing from the Team India squad for the tour of England is all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Apart from this, opener Prithvi Shaw was also snubbed, despite a record-breaking performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, followed by a sublime IPL 2021 campaign.
Coming to the squads of both India and New Zealand, both teams carry some heavy rankers in their squads. In a clash on titans, between two members of modern-day cricket- a battle between Virat Kohli vs Kane Williamson is a must-watch.
As Virat Kohli and Co gear up for the WTC final, here we take a look at team India’s probable XI against New Zealand.
No doubt the list starts with the Hit-Man. Rohit Sharma’s late resurgence to red-ball cricket is a story for ages. After two straight successful series, first, against Australia down under and the one against England at home, Rohit Sharma has cemented his spot as an opener for the WTC final against NZ.
The man in stellar form, KL Rahul may book his place pairing Rohit Sharma to open the innings. It will be interesting to see that how team management will choose KL Rahul or Shubhman Gill as one of the openers. Talking about KL Rahul, he has shown glimpses of his form in the recent past and especially in the shortened IPL 2021. Also, he is one of the experienced players in the squad who knows English conditions better.
The captain of the ship! Virat Kohli simply has a glorious chance to get back in his original form. It has been over 500 days since this run-machine has roared after notching up a century in white jersey. What could be a better time for him to break the shackles and lead India’s way to a win?
Cheteshwar Pujara had an arduous task against England and hasn’t scored a Test ton in over two years, but he has been the rock behind India’s successive Test series wins Down Under. The man who knows English conditions apt, he is the one who will cement his place in the final XI.
Kohli will likely be followed by Team India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. His experience in the middle-order will be important for India. Though Rahane is not so great form, he always seems to raise his game on foreign soil.
Meet Rishabh Pant, India’s new revelation in cricket. The south-paw who has shown some blistering knocks in the Test series against England at home, Pant is likely to be an ideal option behind the stumps for India. Though Pant is tagged as the match-winner for India, he will have to be more aware of the English conditions.
Sir Ravindra Jadeja is making a buzz since he thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore’s bowler for mammoth 33 runs in one over in truncated IPL 2021. Jaddu is currently one of the finest all-rounders in the world. His inclusion in the playing XI will be a big boost to the skipper as Jadeja will be there to render his services in all three departments.
Ravichandran Ashwin, an experienced off-spinner had an impactful series in Australia, a place where he had struggled in the past. The feat would give him confidence heading into the WTC final. On a harsh pitch of Day 4 and 5 in England, Ashwin’s lethal loopy off-spins could add to NZ’s worries.
The right-arm pacer Mohammed Shami has been highly impressive at the start of the innings and lethal with the old ball, getting it to reverse. Team India in England will have high hopes from the swing king.
After missing the fourth Test against England at home, Jasprit Bumrah will eye return to Test cricket when Team India battle NZ in the WTC final. His freezing in-swingers, brutal yorkers, deceiving slower ones will be a worry for Kane Williamson and Co.
Last but not least. Ishant Sharma has produced into a much-disciplined bowler and is an advantage to any team with the kind of experience he possesses. The tall fast bowler will look to punch holes into the formidable batting line-up of Kiwis.
ALWAYS A FANTASTIC CHALLENGE, SAYS WILLIAMSON
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has praised the overview of ICC World Test Championship for having brought in a real context to Test cricket. Williamson will lead Kiwis in the final of the WTC against India starting June 18 in Southampton, England.
“I think we saw the context of the Test Championship,” Williamson said in a video posted by ICC on Twitter. He is also looking forward to playing against India which he considers being a ‘fantastic challenge.’ “It’s really, really exciting to be involved in the final, obviously to win it would be that much better. Whenever you play India, it’s a fantastic challenge. It’s really exciting to be playing them,” he said.
New Zealand, currently placed 2nd in Test rankings, arrived in Southampton on Monday, while India is expected to depart on June 2 after assembling in Mumbai where they will enter the bio-bubble.