They have played their best cricket in the last six months starting with the tour of Australia and then outplaying England at home. Both teams – India and New Zealand - deservedly reached the final and are full of impact players, who can very well decide who lift the ICC Test Mace on June 22.
India have been on a roll ever since that dismal 36 all out in Adelaide. Not only India bounced back from such a crushing defeat but managed to outclass Australians on their home turf. With several key players getting injured and skipper Virat Kohli leaving the tour mid-way, Indian youngsters rose to the challenge. The win was completed at Gabba, a fortress for Australia.
Next up India got the better of England at home, that too after losing the opener in Chennai.
As India get ready for the WTC final, here’s a look at five key players who can help India win the battle against the Kiwis:
Skipper Virat Kohli can set the tone for his side in the WTC final. Photo: AP
1) Virat Kohli: How India approach the final will depend on skipper Kohli. He is known to take the game head-on and is aggressive in chasing wins. Kohli, who has 877 runs in 14 matches in WTC, has been in an indifferent form since his premature return from Australia after the first Test. His highest in Australia was 74 and since December 2020, Kohli has featured in four matches against England failing to score big. But Kohli knows his game and perhaps has saved his best for the WTC final. He can surely set the tone for the side.
An experienced opener and vice-captain Rohit Sharma will have to shoulder the responsibility with Kohli. Photo: File
2) Rohit Sharma: On his day, Sharma can be the catalyst. He can singlehandedly defeat a team. A free-flowing batsman, Sharma will have the responsibility of giving India a good start and blunt the New Zealand pacers. The likes of Trent Boult, Kyle Jaimeson and Tim Southee can be quite difficult to handle with Dukes ball certain to provide ample swing. Sharma can be the key for India in terms of not only denying New Zealand an early breakthrough but also keeping the scoreboard ticking. He has scored 1030 runs in WTC with four centuries and two half centuries.
His all-round abilities make him a strong contender for a berth in playing XI. Photo: AP
3) Ravindra Jadeja: English conditions and the duke ball swinging and nipping, Jadeja can be the man Friday for India. Jadeja's batting has blossomed and he showed his class during India’s tour of Australia before an injury forced him to return home early. He made a successful comeback during the home series against England. An all-rounder in the truest sense, his accuracy with the ball and his ability to bat down the order with tailenders makes 'Jaddu' a must-have in the playing XI. He has 469 runs and 28 wickets in WTC.
Jasprit Bumrah will look to make full use of the conditions in Southampton. Photo: AP
4) Jasprit Bumrah: The pacer will be relishing the conditions in England. With Dukes ball in hand, he will be a sight to behold. His unconventional action and his generate pace makes him an impact player in any condition. New Zealand will surely be preparing for him. He has featured in nine WTC matches, picking up 34 wickets. He averages 22.4.
R Ashwin has 67 wickets, three less than the top-wicket taker Pat Cummins in WTC. Photo: AP
5) Ravichandran Ashwin: The spinner is known to have so many variations that even the best struggles to pick him. Ask Joe Root and other English batsmen. When on the song, Ashwin can run through any side in no time and along with Jadeja, he can surely keep New Zealand batsmen on their toes. He is not a novice with the bat either. Few will forget his dodged defense in Sydney. Coming down the order, he and Hanuma Vihari eked out a draw. Ashwin has 67 wickets and 295 runs from 13 WTC matches.
Rishabh Pant has been in good form and can make an impact in the WTC final. Photo: BCCI
Rishabh Pant: The legend of Pant has grown since Sydney where the wicketkeeper-batsman scored 97, giving Aussies a mighty scare. That scare turned into a reality in the next match when his unbeaten 89 guided India to a historic win at Gabba. He has scores of 91, 11, 58 not out, 8, 1, DNB, 101 since then. For a player who took so much criticism for his keeping skills initially, Pant is now almost certain to start the match ahead of much experienced Wriddhiman Saha. As a keeper-batsman Pant averages 45.26. The three players ahead of him are AB De Villiers (57.41), Andy Flower (53.70) and Adam Gilchrist (47.60).
Wicketkeepers with the highest batting average in Tests (minimum 20 matches):
ð¿ð¦ AB de Villiers - 57.41
ð¿ð¼ Andy Flower - 53.70
ð¦ðº Adam Gilchrist - 47.60
ð®ð³ RISHABH PANT - 45.26 ð
In elite company already ð«May 21, 2021