India will take on New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship, starting from June 18 in Southampton, England. The Indian team will head into the final with the backdrop of unpleasant memories at The Rose Bowl ground having lost both their previous Tests at the venue against England in 2014 and 2018.
What’s more? Both losses at the WTC final venue turned to be decisive with the defeat in 2014 beginning the team’s slide towards an eventual series loss after a famous win at Lord’s, while in 2018 India lost the series in Southampton itself. Here, we take a brief look at both matches.
India vs England, 3rd Test, 2014
Alastair Cook chose to bat and England’s 55-run opening stand put MS Dhoni’s men on the backfoot from the outset. Cook (95) and Jos Buttler (85) missed out on first innings centuries but Ian Bell (167) and Gary Ballance (156) didn’t. India’s four-man bowling attack of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Pankaj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja toiled for 163.4 overs as England declared on 569/7. India could manage 330 in response with only Ajinkya Rahane (54) and Dhoni (50) getting fifties.
Player of the Match James Anderson was a thorn in the side of India’s batsmen, taking 5/53 after which England posted 205/4 in their second innings to set the tourists a challenging target of 445. Moeen Ali then proceeded to run through India’s batting line-up with figures of 6/67 and only Rahane (52*) managed to put on some resistance as Dhoni’s men were bundled out for 178, resulting in a 266-run defeat. The series was squared 1-1 and the Test was to be the turning point in the series as India went on to lose both remaining matches by an innings.
India vs England, 4th Test, 2018
India arrived in Southampton trailing 1-2 but had reduced England to 86/6 after the hosts had elected to bat. Their bowling attack featuring Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin and Shami were proving to be a handful. However, the English lower order put on a spirited fight led by Moeen (40) and Sam Curran (78) to eventually help the hosts post 246 in the first innings. Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 132 helped India score 273 and gave his side a slender lead.
England then wobbled at 122/5 in their second innings but another fightback ensued courtesy Buttler (69) and Curran (46) as the hosts rallied to 271 and set India a target of 245 to win. Apart from Virat Kohli (58) and Rahane (51), India struggled to cope with the pressure of a final innings chase and unraveled against Player of the Match Moeen’s (5/63 & 4/71) off-spin as England won by 60 runs.