New Zealand was the first team to book their tickets to the ICC World Test Championship and have a genuine shot at finally claiming a prize in a major tournament of International cricket when they take on India in the tournament decider in Southampton. With the final set to begin on the 18th of June and the selectors have released the squad set to play as well.
While the Indians do have the momentum on their side, the Black Caps hold a certain edge due to their fast bowling expertise with conditions similar to back home. It is also worth remembering that New Zealand beat India convincingly in the last two Tests between them, being a menace with the ball. Hence, they would be smacking their lips to put their hands on that trophy.
Here is our predicted New Zealand playing XI set to take the field for the final.
New Zealand’s first-choice opening batsman and vice-captain of the team, has been an integral part of the Kiwis’ Test team. The left-handed Kiwi batsman has made 680 runs from 11 Tests in the WTC league at an average of 40.00, including five half-centuries and a solitary hundred. The Black Caps will continue to depend a lot on Latham to provide them with solid starts against India.
The 30-year-old Kiwi batsman has emerged as the more consistent performer in the much-competed spot of the partnering opening batsman. The aggressive right-hand batsman has scored 402 runs from his 8 Tests played for the Black Caps’ campaign through the league. He possesses all the abilities to put the Indian bowling attack under pressure if he gets going.
One part of the fab four, Skipper Kane Williamson is at the top of the run charts for New Zealand with 817 runs from 9 Tests at an average of 58.35, including three centuries. The Kiwi great has absolutely dominated with the bat and will be extremely crucial to Kiwis’ chances in Southampton. He will be seen leading from the front, versus a bowling attack which is one of India’s best in Test cricket history.
Ross Taylor’s Test match game has been on the decline, scoring only 469 runs at 31.26 from his 17 innings in the Test championship tournament so far. The veteran batsman has also been an injury concern in recent months. But the management is expected to still stick with their most experienced player given the magnitude of the occasion and the pressure that comes with it being New Zealand’s highest run-maker in Test history.
Nicholls’ journey from a promising talent to their most dependable middle-order batsman has been spectacular. The left-handed batsman has contributed 585 runs from his 10 Tests at an average of 41.78 in helping New Zealand to the WTC final. Scoring two centuries in the tournament so far and will be keen to make another big score when he comes up against India.
The Kiwi player is one of the best contemporary wicketkeeper-batsmen in the world. The reliable right-hand batsman with efficient keeping skills has been a consistently vital contributor to New Zealand’s cause. Having made 3,773 runs in his long-standing Test career at an average of 38.11, the senior batsman will bow out from the game, making the WTC final the last time the Keeper batsman dons the New Zealand jersey.
Mitchell Santner/ Daryl Mitchell/ Colin de Grandhomme
Colin de Grandhomme would probably occupy the pace-bowling all-rounder position, with Daryl Mitchell in close competition. Colin de Grandhomme missed the last Test series against Pakistan and West Indies, recently undergoing ankle surgery. Mitchell Santner also provides something different with his spin bowling, considering the Kiwi’s all-pace attack.
The tall pace bowling all-rounder has been fantastic with both bat and the ball for New Zealand since making his debut in the Test whites. Kyle Jamieson has taken 36 wickets from his 6 Tests for New Zealand at a stellar average of just 13.27. Scoring vital lower-order runs he averages 56.50 after six innings. Given the impact he can have, he is an automatic choice for the starting berth.
Senior paceman Southee ended the league round of the World Test championship by being New Zealand’s highest wicket-taker. Taking 51 wickets from 10 Tests at an average of 20.66, including three-fivers, Southee could prove very dangerous for Indian batsmen if the track at Southampton offers some seam movement with a swing which is given in the English conditions.
The Kiwi pace bowler is perhaps the most lethal exponent of conventional swing bowling in the cricket world. If Boult is his element, he can run through the Indian batting line-up making it a no-contest for the rest of the Test match. Having taken 34 wickets from 9 Tests at an average of 29.29 in the WTC tournament he will be raring to perform as he returns to English conditions.
Wagner has been outstanding for New Zealand with his unique methods of playing the opposition batsmen. Not giving the batsman room by bowling hard lines and lengths through his spells with unwavering accuracy, He has taken 32 scalps at 22.50 runs per piece in the ongoing WTC tournament.
With one last game separating the Kiwis from the all coveted trophy, New Zealand will be high in spirits of their chances with conditions close to that of home.
Let us know your comments on what you make of the Kiwi probable XI and who do you expect to lift the trophy.
Cover Credits: TheRepublic