A historical event is unfolding on 18th June at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Cricket lovers of my generation would have never envisaged a test championship. It was as unthinkable as Cricket in the Olympics.
However, Kudos to ICC for managing to hold test championship even under the onslaught of Pandemic. The finalists are India, the superpower of cricket, and Dark Horse, Newzealand.
The battle for the top 2 was a four-pronged race and England, and Australia were both knocked out by India as India beat Australia down under and drubbed England at home. This enabled Newzealand to be in the 2nd place and they are not an easy target. Newzealand does not have stars but it is a team of contributors as everyone scores at least 20 to 30 runs, thus helps in attaining a good total. Their pace attack does the rest of the job with the likes of Trent Boult and Neil Wagner in their side, the pace attack stands to be currently one of the best in the business.
New Zealand has clinched the series against England and their bowlers scalped the hapless batting of England. It was sad to see a pedestrian performance by Anderson and Broad, stalwarts who failed to deliver. On the other hand, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, and Tim Southee created horror for the English side.
Every cricketer is stating that New Zealand is having an advantage as they have got practice and they have conditioned themselves very well. Secondly, Kiwis drubbed India 2-0 in the last series and they have tall pacers to trouble Indian batsmen so Newz will the championship hands down.
Now I have a divergent opinion.
When India faced New Zealand, Mayank and Prithwi Shaw opened and they opened the flood gates. Jamieson was new, Virat Kohli and Pujara couldn't tackle him. Now India is much better suited to acclimatize to English condition with Youth coming of age.
India (IND): Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (Wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj/ Ishant Sharma
New Zealand (NZ): Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme/ Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner
This is a wonderful track that assists Pace for the first 3 days and then aids the spinners provided the pitch stays dry. Movement off the pitch is not great but it induces catches or LBW as the batsmen are at times committed to play forward.
4th innings India Scored 178 and 180 in their previous outings so chasing 300 in 4th innings could be a tremendous task.
One has to play late and closer to body . Pujara scored 132 not out by sticking to basics. India can tale solace that Kohli, Rahane have scored half-centuries here and Ashwin too has plenty of runs under his belt at this venue.
Whoever wins the toss should be electing to bat as chasing is likely to be difficult in 4th innings.
Strategy by Newzealand
- Attack the off stump of Kohli and Pujara and pitch the ball short to Rohit, Shubhman, Kohli, and Pant.
- Restrict them to a score of less than 250 as lower-order does not score runs at Southampton.
Strategy by India
- Conway plays on the crease and his lateral movement is very good, being a south African he can cut and pull. So overpitch swinging delivery can trouble him. Ashwin and Jadeja will induce mistakes from him.
- For Left-handers Ashwin and Bumrah should be used at one end. Shami has shown good performance at Southampton due to his seam position so over bowl him as he will get right-handers like Taylor and Williamson.
Match score predictions
If India wins the toss
they will bat and score 400 odd runs.
Newzealand will concede a lead of 100 runs.
India will score 250 odd in 2nd innings.
New Zealand could lose the test by a good margin of runs.
New Zealand wins the toss and elects to bat.
They will score around 300.
India will score around 350 odd.
New Zealand will score around 270 in 2nd innings.
India will be chasing around 250.
Most probably India will chase and win.
India: 3.25, New Zealand: 2.75, and Draw: 2.50
Players to watch out
Indian spinners, and top four of the Indian batting order, namely, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Pujara, and Virat Kohli.
Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Kyle Jamieson, and Boult. Tim Southee, a star will not be effective and this will hamper New Zealand
So brace yourself for a competitive match.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author's view and do not necessarily reflect the official match scores, proceedings, or position of the match in any way.