There is exactly one week to go for the start of the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand at The Rose Bowl in Southampton. While both teams possess several game-changers within their ranks, we take a look at some of the key players who could make a big impact on the outcome of the WTC final.
Following a horror tour in 2014, the Indian captain completely turned things around on his next trip to England in 2018. Be it technical adjustments or batting discipline, Kohli did whatever it took to finish as by far the highest run-getter on both sides. His will be the prized wicket as always, and if the skipper can score big in the WTC final, it can uplift the entire side.
Ashwin had set the tone right at the start of the 2018 England tour with seven wickets in the first Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham. He could not keep up the performance due to injury, and was outbowled by even Moeen Ali in the fourth Test in Southampton. A fully fit Ashwin will be a different challenge altogether for New Zealand to tackle, especially for the three left-handers in their top five.
India’s only Test win in England in 2018 had a five-wicket haul from Bumrah at Trent Bridge. As the pitch eased out and England resisted for close to four sessions, it was Bumrah who sealed the win with marathon figures of 29-8-85-5. Southampton has a reputation for being among the more batting-friendly venues in England, but if someone can produce a wicket burst on any surface, it is Bumrah.
A left-arm swing bowler with the new Dukes ball will pose a challenge every morning in England. And someone of the pedigree of Boult will be a constant threat with his movement, accuracy and control. India’s specialist batsmen are all right-handers, and will have to be wary of the new ball curving into their pads. Boult already averages under 24 in England against a career average of 28.
The New Zealand captain is the glue that binds the line-up, absorbing pressure calmly when needed and capitalising when the time is right. New Zealand have rested Williamson for the ongoing Edgbaston Test against England so that his troublesome elbow can recover better in time for the WTC final. A fit Williamson will not only be a shrewd tactical adversary, but also a difficult batsman to dislodge.
Featured photo : Gianluigi Guercia / AFP