No ‘Advantage’ to any team, anything can happen in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final match -

No ‘Advantage’ to any team, anything can happen in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final match

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Final match in any sport, any championship is always altogether different, you have to put both teams on an equal platform.


 Rakesh Thapliyal

NEW DELHI: Today ‘Advantage’ is the key word in the cricketing world. From Cricket experts to every Tom, Dick and Harry talking about which team, India or New Zealand will have ‘Advantage’ in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final match which starts on Friday at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

Recently New Zealand had played two Test series against host England and won it 1-0 on the other hand Indian players landed in England a few weeks back after playing in the half finished IPL 2021. Indian squad played just one Intra squad match in England. Million Dollar question is will New Zealand enjoy the ‘Advantage’ for having played two Test matches in England just before the final? Some will say Yes and some will say NO and only time will tell who gave the right answer.
In my opinion Final match in any sport, any championship is always altogether different, you have to put both teams on an equal platform. On this issue New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said,  “We’re playing the best team in the world. It’s a really exciting occasion. It’s incredible.“You have both teams coming to a neutral venue – it’s unique, an exciting occasion that both teams are looking forward to starting. “It’s a one-off and in cricket, anything can happen. It will be widely followed and fans from more than just New Zealand and India are excited to watch it unfold. We’re just fortunate to be involved in it.” Indian Captain Virat Kohli said, “In Test cricket we have performed well and deserve to be on that field playing the brand of cricket we’ve played in the past few years. “For us as a team, we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now and we will continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game.”

The Indian team has decided to play three fast bowlers and one spinner and one all rounder in the xi. This looks like the right option in english conditions. India xi: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma Jasprit Bumrah.
Having just finished a Test series against England, New Zealand will be used to the pitch and weather conditions that the WTC Final will be played in.

But India have a bowling attack more than capable of taking 20 wickets anywhere in the world, with the quintet of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja among the best on the planet.
Skipper Virat Kohli is expecting a high-quality Test match between the top two sides in the rankings, although he took issue with New Zealand being framed as ‘the nice guys’ of world cricket. “I really don’t understand this term that was just used – I don’t think any other team has ‘bad guys’ in their team,” said Kohli. “We get along very well off the field but when you step across the line, it’s business at the end of the day and you need to deal with it accordingly. “It’s pretty serious stuff out there, it’s not something that is fun and games played in a very low voltage environment. “This is a huge game, a huge Test match and we are certainly looking forward to the opportunity that we have been waiting for a few years now.

Here are some interesting facts which can attract the cricket lovers.India have lost both of their previous Tests in Southampton – by 266 runs in 2014, and by 60 runs in 2018.
However, India did emerge victorious in all three of their previous ICC tournament fixtures at the venue, beating Kenya by 98 runs in the 2004 Champions Trophy, before overcoming South Africa and Afghanistan at the 2019 World Cup. New Zealand have won both of their previously completed fixtures at Ageas Bowl, two ODIs against England in 2013 and 2015. India have beaten New Zealand just once in five previous ICC events – at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. They also lost in the final of New Zealand’s only trophy-winning campaign, the ICC knockout in Nairobi in 2000.

Williamson eager for New Zealand to put their best foot forward

Kane Williamson wants New Zealand to use the biggest stage to show the world just how far they’ve come as he prepares to lead his side into the first-ever ICC World Test Championship Final. The Black Caps were eighth in the ICC Test rankings as recently as 2013 but have been on the rise ever since and victory over England earlier this month ensured they head into the WTC Final against India as the world’s number one team in the five-day format.
Since the inaugural WTC began in 2019, New Zealand have got better with every passing series and Williamson is excited for his team to bring their best for what he believes will be an ‘incredible’ occasion at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. “There’s been a lot of growth over a period of time with so many challenges along the way every day but the team has bought into it and tried to move past those with a good attitude,” explained the Black Caps captain.

“There is a lot of hard work done over a long period of time to find ourselves here in the first final (of the WTC). “It’s exciting but for us it’s just focusing on continuing that growth and trying to keep committing to the parts of our game that give us the best chance and that’s where I know the guys will be focusing on.

Williamson was forced to sit out of the second Test against England due to an injured elbow but says he is ready to play in the WTC final, while also having a fully-fit playing group to choose from. “Everybody is fit in the squad, which is a good thing. My elbow has improved, with the help of an injection a few days back, which has been nice,” he added “I’m still managing it but all in all, it’s certainly showing signs of improvement, which is good.”


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