WTC Final: The battle of the modern aces

Image Source: PTI and Sky Sports.

The monsoon morning usually comes with a lot of mixed emotions. It does test the resident nearby the river banks and it has already devastated few parts of Nepal last night. Amidst the tragedy, the lower plain also felt some coolness as the summer was more than a challenge with some extreme heat around.

With so much going on with the first heavy rain this monsoon, cricbuzz presented a video featuring Harsha Bhogle some 48 hours ago which was viewed by Nirajan and me with lots of agreement and disagreement. Here’s the real battle that Nirajan and I have thought to put forward as we are jotting down our views on some points to validate our support to India and New Zealand respectively.

See the video here:

The International Cricket Council(ICC) had a plan to endorse Test Cricket as it was very important to save the stake of its pinnacle form of cricket. Hence, in 2019 a World Test Championship was held with 2 years cycle of matches among the nine best teams in the world. Each team was proposed to play six series with a total of 120 points available for each series. The points system was taken into account for a revised version as the pandemic struck and stopped the whole world in 2020. Here’s the revision of the points system in the link:-


With both Australia and England, the powerhouse of Test cricket for many years got defeated by the new generation of a powerhouse or the aces of Test cricket of modern age, India and New Zealand, Here are Nirajan’s lines of debate on why he thinks Kiwis hold an upper hand on the flamboyant Indian side.

My reply to him in favor of a new generation of the Indian team who have learned to fly after falling down, again and again, will be something worth it for the readers as we want to make this once in over 144 years of Test Match, the ultimate Test, a great debate of all time. So, here’s Nirajan’s five points to put his blackcaps side on top of the summit followed by my conquerers not behind him but alongside him in the quest to be the ultimate one for the ultimate fans of cricket.

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New Zealand will beat India in the WTC final and here’s why!

The world test championship final starts Friday, two years of test cricket geared up towards the final at Lord’s. Oh wait, its not at Lord’s, is it? Well that’s a shame. The Rose Bowl at Southampton will do. Because, in the end, it doesn’t matter where the Kiwis beat the Indians, its all about winning the inaugural World Test Championship. Oh, was that not clear? New Zealand beating India in the final that is. Well it’s pretty clear to me irrespective of what my beloved colleague Amit Pokharel says.

India are most people’s favorite to win this final and all of them are sleeping on New Zealand. Nothing unusual I guess; people always seem to forget the mild-mannered Kiwis. Hey, I am free, so let me tell you 5 reasons why I think that New Zealand will come out on top when the dust settles on that turf in Southampton.

Test match ready Kiwis, Ill-prepared India

Let’s talk about the match readiness and fitness of the two teams. New Zealand just played a two-match series against England in England. India last played a test series in February at home. The last bit of competitive cricket played by most Indian players was in the IPL, which is not necessarily the best way to prepare for a test match now, is it? Do you want to know the best part about the series that the Kiwis played?

They won that series against England who hadn’t lost a home series since 2014. And what’s more, they rested many players on their way to victory. The Kiwi players have had great match practice and most of them have looked in good nick. That’s why New Zealand will be riding high on that win and also enjoy better match sharpness when they take on Virat Kohli’s men on Friday.

  • Openers and their English ordeals

One position that you need to sort out the most in England is the opening partnership. Time and time again visiting teams have failed in the opening department leading to failures. England themselves have been struggling with their openers. So, this final could hinge on a good opening stand.

 New Zealand has the duo of Tom Latham and the sensational Devon Conway. Although they are a new pair, they recently played two matches in England. Latham is experienced and consistently has been a good opener in away tests. He averages 38 in away tests (excluding neutral tests) and nearly 34 in England in four matches. I guess Devon Conway needs no introduction. He may be only two tests old but both have come in England and he scored a whopping 306 runs in those two matches, against the likes of Broad and Anderson.

On the other hand, India is likely to open with Rohit Sharma who averages 17 in England in one match he has played. He averages a 27 in twenty overseas tests, nearly 20 less than his career average. His partner will most likely be Shubman Gill who has never played international cricket in England.

Take your pick on who is going to perform better in the final and get their team off to a great start. I’ll give you a hint, it is not the Indian lads.

  • Quartet of Chaos: The pace attack of New Zealand

Boult, Southee, Jamieson, and Wagner. That’s the bowling attack the Indians will be facing. Amit Pokharel, you better be ready to whine over how your Indians batsman is falling like a deck of cards when they face the Kiwi quartet. Like the once-famous quartet of John, Paul, George, and Ringo that shook England and then took over the world, these four bowlers are ready to take the world crown.

Amit Dai, and it’s absolutely certain that these four, just like the Beatles, will really get a hold on you and your Indian batting line-up. The last time these two teams met in a series, these four bowlers took 36 out of 40 Indian wickets. They have played a huge role in New Zealand’s run to the final, taking a total of 153 wickets in the world test championship. Swing of Southee and Boult, height and seam of Jamieson, and the nagging bouncers of Wagner will dismantle the Indian batting lineup. And when the final ball has been bowled, they will lead the Kiwis to glory.

  • Keeping and Slip catching

This might seem like a trivial topic but in English conditions and in a pressure filled one off final, little mistakes can decide the outcomes. We all know the flaws in Rishabh Pant’s keeping and how it has been talked about a lot. And though they have improved a lot, India’s slip fielding still has a long way to go until they are up to the elite mark. Ajinkya Rahane is probably the only one in that cordon who is safe as houses.

Unlike the Indian team, New Zealand has a settled cordon with the safe hands of outgoing BJ Watling with gloves. The likes of Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, and Tim Southee are great to slip fielders along with great catching records. The slip cordon of New Zealand is more settled and cohesive than the Indian cordon. And in a final, with the title at stake one slip (if you pardon the pun) is all it takes to drop the chance of victory.

  • Remember Last Time?

Now for one last reason, Amit Pokharel, let’s look at the last time these two teams met. New Zealand wiped the floor with India as they swept the series 2-0. Both the wins were dominant victories, with one being a 10-wicket victory in just over three days and another being a seven-wicket victory in under three days. Out of the four innings, India scored over 200 only once with 235 being their highest score. This will play on the minds of Indian players and boost the morale of the Kiwis.

Roger that Nirajan!! That was one heck of a presentation in favor of Kiwi’s.

Well, those points were analyzed and tough about a highly spirited New Zealand side who looks set to my points of debate which aren’t far behind too. My reply won’t be in points but would love to go deep and dive into the neck-to-neck encounter with my beloved confederate Nirajan so here we go with some “Bhangda” from the Bharat Army as they are geared up for the battle too.

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I will go in with some stats backing Rohit Sharma who obviously must be favorite batter when it comes to the preparation of the Boult-Hitman show as per Shane Bond’s recent interview. Yes, he predominantly is a white ball lazy elegance fellow with all the stats hovering around but if he gets in a groove of his naturally gifted timing, New Zealand and most importantly Boult & Co. will not breathe fresh air in Southampton.

How do I back this optimism? That’s what my co-colleague would be laughing out loud about, here you go my dear friend, India has never lost a test match whenever Rohit Sharma had involved in a century partnership(13 times). How badly you wish to trap him off Boult?, You better do that early in his innings!! Likewise, if he moves on and smashed 2 sixes in a match which he had done 13 times before my dearest friend Nirajan your guess is spot on, India has never lost a Test Match with that stint of Sharma too.

Don’t let Rohit settle down or hit a century(7 times) and the worst of it all don’t let him remain not out(8 times). Yes, young man those numbers in the small bracket are the times India has remained victorious. So, beware if Rohit will be in the mood, the quartet of chaos could easily be quartet & chaos, once and for all in the history books.

Let’s back up Shubman Gill now. Yes, he might be playing his first game in England but my friend just forgot a recent series in Australia or should I sing the old Gabba rhyme? Gill was the backbone of that famous series win when in the second match he helped the team for a great comeback and in the fourth test his 91 not out helped India summit Gabba as well and my brother it was the first time too. so, every great thing starts the first time. If I remember it right, Devon Conway recently batted for the first time and made a name for himself and his country too.

To add more spice into it, Gill is not some bunny that will be playing the game in Kiwi’s hands as Gill is the youngest batsmen for India to score a double century in a first-class match that too in West indies against all the odds. If his IPL form is being pointed out then remember he was the emerging player in the last year’s edition and Steve Smith failed the IPL stint recently but we can’t judge Smudge in white with Smith in the IPL right?

I don’t want to talk more of the trios led by Bumrah, Ishant, and Shami. Langer, as well as cook in the past, have spoken a lot about them against your quartet.

But I would definitely be running after you as your spin department has opted for a raw left-arm spinner against an experience of Ravichandran Ashwin. Let me do this in number, Ravi Chandran Ashwin is the first player in the history of 143 years of Test cricket to take 200 wickets against the left-hand batters. Out of his 391 test scalps, 51.2% have come against left-handers. Were you saying something about Latham as well as Conway in numbers? I hope it will help for the much important mind preparation against the mighty off-spinner of India. Read in details here:

You seemed to talk about slip catching and all. Well, let me remind you that Ajinkya Rahane holds the record of most catches in an innings and in a Test match too. To add more cherry to the cake, he has done this stint away from home in the long format of cricket.

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma as well as Shubman Gill might have off days but clearly they aren’t bunny behind the wicket my friend!! So, yes Rahane is safe as houses but he has other members to join in that house.

Talking about preparation, yes you might have an edge ahead after all you’ve beaten England in their backyard that too convincingly but that doesn’t mean we are lagging behind. Hanuma Vihari had a decent outing in County Cricket and his experience will count a lot.

Let me have a quick remainder of how he alongside Ashwin with niggles of injury saved a Test match against Australia in the toughest of conditions and match situation. So, we are morally as well as mentally prepared for the greatest clash.

Add Jadeja’s direct hit, as well as safe catching, maybe Williamson and co. won’t go for aerial swag and quick singles. Otherwise, that would help the Indian beat going all over Southampton with Kohli as always dancing high in ambition. You don’t want that roar, do you?

Away from home in a neutral venue, the Test Championship final featuring two teams that we can debate on and on with lags as well as strength is compared every now and then. But, the real clash of the cool Kane Williamson with a hot Virat Kohli will be a contest for ages.

It might be one of the greatest test matches or a unidirectional clash as both the teams in their supreme can be the best version of anyone to be compared.

“Just like the last time in scenic Christchurch, when the curtain closes on the much-awaited final in Southampton, Kiwis will the ones with the victory champagnes in their hands”

I have deliberately quoted your last lines to give you a reminder that celebrating before it is actually over in cricket, can harm a whole generation, didn’t get that right?, it’s not a pun my brother, it is a belief which you can ask a South African fan that alongside Herschelle Gibbs celebrated even before catching Steve Waugh in the famous 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup that cost them not just a game but labeled them some unwanted tags.

With all good vibes as well as points, I rest my case for this debate which is sure to bring buzz among our mutual circle by the least and on behalf of Nirajan and the whole team of Cricket Concern would love to wish all the best for a historic final. Let’s give away all the works of the upcoming five days from 18th June to 22nd June 2021. Let us all stay safe and healthy.

By Amit Pokharel & Nirajan Khadka


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