Battle of Pace v/s Pace: World Test Championship Countdown Begins

World Test Championship Final
Credits: NDTV Sports

The World Test Championship finale is only a month away and the temperatures are rising with New Zealand getting ample practice against England in England before they face India in the decider. While the squads of both India and New Zealand are out, it remains to be seen how Indian team pacers fare against the mighty New Zealand pace attack on the England pitch.

Southampton has been a paradise for pacers in the past where Bumrah and Shami had a nice outing when they played against the England team. However this time the likes of Wagner, Jamieson, Southee, and Boult will be up for the challenge as well.

Squads for the World Test Championship final:

New Zealand Squad:

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.

India Squad:

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

Standby Players: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla

What’s interesting is that the bowlers from both teams are among the top 20 bowlers according to the ICC Test rankings:

  • 2nd Ravichandran Ashwin
  • 3rd Neil Wagner
  • 6th Tim Southee
  • 11th Jasprit Bumrah
  • 13th Trent Boult
  • 16th Ravindra Jadeja
  • 17th Ishant Sharma
  • 18th Mohammed Shami
  • 20th Kyle Jamieson

That’s 9 top-quality bowlers competing against each other in the World’s biggest Championship battle. Isn’t this cricket’s biggest extravaganza in an old-fashioned way?

While Wagner, Jamieson, Southee and Boult have always had the upper hand over the Indian batters it’s going to be the Indian pacers who will have to be their absolute best to be up against the New Zealand batsmen. BJ Watling will be playing his last test so he will make sure that he gives his everything to this test.

However, India will be in doubt with its pacer choice between Siraj, Umesh, and Ishant Sharma. Experience into consideration, it should be Ishant making it to the XI but with the kind of run Siraj is having he might just make it to the cut above Umesh. While Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja are expected to play together, here’s the playing XI we suggest for India:

Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami & Jasprit Bumrah.

The likes of Siraj, Umesh, and even the inclusion of Vihari are doubtful but his experience in the county recently under English conditions might just play in Hanuma’s favour.

With a month to go, what are your predictions for the WTC Final: A New Zealand Win, An Indian Revenge of the 2019 WC Semi-Final or a Draw? Do let us know in the comments below.