After 586 days of hard-fought test cricket, the inaugural World Test Championship is set to conclude, with the final to be played between the top two sides starting on June 18th. But who will strike gold? Let's find out.
Disclaimer: This blog post is unrelated to any betting/prediction scandals. It's just a curious dig at our beloved game of cricket.
To decode the chances of winning for both sides, let's introduce some parameters. These will help us in analyzing the chances of both teams precisely.
Team combinations & match-ups
New Zealand had ample match practice by playing two tests against a lousy English side. Whereas the Indian cricket team last played a Test in early March.
We already heard many people telling us how important these matches were for New Zealand. It's completely true. Even though Virat said that both teams are on equal footing coming into the final, one can clearly say that New Zealand has the edge.
Under this parameter, let's have a look at the performances of both teams in English conditions and Southampton venue respectively.
Record in English conditions overall
Record in Southampton specifically
There's nothing much to separate both teams, to be honest. Both teams' record is poor, but India ekes out barely just because they are already acclimated to the conditions in Southampton and have experience of playing at the Rose Bowl.
Don't want to take anything away from New Zealand's recent series victory against England, but they have less time to turn up and switch swiftly before the final. That might be their only undoing.
Both sides have announced a squad of 15 members for the final. Let's have a look at the team combinations and the possible match-ups.
New Zealand's 15-member squad for the WTC Final: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.
India's 15-member squad for the WTC Final: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav
As of writing this blog post, going by the news around the Southampton pitch, we are in for a pretty even contest. In the initial days, the pitch will have carry, pace, and bounce for the seamers and spinners will come into play later in the test.
If the news holds true (and let's hope the weather too!), New Zealand will play a lone spinner in the name of Ajaz Patel and India might push for the selection of both Ashwin and Jadeja.
New Zealand's probable 11 for the WTC Final: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (Wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry/ Kyle Jamieson/ Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
India's probable 11 for the WTC Final: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (Wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Boult and Southee vs Indian top order
Bumrah vs Williamson and Ross Taylor
New Zealand spinner vs India spinner(s)
These match-ups could possibly dictate the fate of the match (if weather permits!!)
In the light of everything said here, toss plays a crucial role and both teams would want to maximize the conditions, the Rose Bowl has to offer.
Taking everything into consideration, New Zealand will start as favorites, for a change. On the other side, having been failed to win an ICC trophy for the past 7 years. India might be relieved to hold the dark horse tag coming into the final. Pressure is a fickle thing, whichever team plays good solid test cricket will go a long way in winning the title (again, only if weather permits!!!)
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