India vs New Zealand WTC final
Photo: ICC/Twitter

The two best Test nations – India and New Zealand – are preparing to lock horns against each other in the inaugural World Test Championship final.

Kiwis were the first team to book their spot in the first-ever Test championship in the history of the game. They reached the final by defeating Pakistan 2-0 in a three-match Test series at home in December 2020.

In a conversation with Sports Today, NZ captain Kane Williamson seemed elated to lead his side into the contest. He said: “It’s exciting to play in the final of the first (World) Test Championship. Adding Test Championship has added context to Test cricket and it has been a really interesting move.”

The Kiwis did not have to worry about Australia taking their final’s spot, courtesy of the suspended tour of South Africa. Cricket Australia postponed the SA series citing the coronavirus pandemic.

On the other hand, India booked their spot after thumping England 3-1 in the recent Test series at home.

Wicketkeeper and Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant bagged the Player Of The Match award in the final and fourth Test that Virat Kohli’s men won by an inning and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad. Whereas, all-rounder Ravi Ashwin was declared the Man Of The Series for his subliminal display with the bat and ball.

This victory boosted the confidence of the young Indian lot as they topped the ICC Test charts with a 72.2% win percentage.

When is WTC final?

The much-awaited final will be played at Southampton’s Rose Bowl Cricket Stadium from June 18. The five-day game will conclude on 22nd June.

How to watch the Test championship final?

Cricket fanatics can watch live streams of the prestigious World Test Championship final on the Star Sports network and Hotstar.

Squads

India

Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul (subject to fitness clearance), Wriddhiman Saha (WK, subject to fitness clearance).

New Zealand

Kane Williamson (C), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryll Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (WK), Will Young.

Match predictions

In recent years, we have seen that teams with home advantage have thrived in thought conditions as well to pull of great upsets. This is why the WTC final will be an interesting game because the ICC has got both India and NZ to face each other at a neutral venue.

The Rose Bowl doesn’t have a lot of good memories for the Indian fans. India have lost both Tests they played at the Southampton wicket. In 2014, hosts England overwhelmed India by 266 runs in the first Test. Later in 2018, England thumped the visitors again.

The Kiwis are yet to play a Test at this ground. When it comes to the ODIs, they have an impressive 2-0 win-loss record which makes them favourites to win the Test championship as the stats prove that Williamson’s men adapt to the English conditions better than Kohli’s side.

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Shayan is a Pakistan-based sports blogger with over three years of experience in journalism and sub-editing of sports-related pieces.

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