India defeated England at home in the four-match Test series 3-1 to qualify for the final of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC). They topped the ICC WTC points table and will face New Zealand at Lord’s from June 18-22, with 23rd being the reserve day.
This one-off Test will crown the first-ever ICC World Test champions and Virat Kohli’s India will look to wear that crown, given that they beat a lot of odds to make it there. India was sitting pretty with 360 points to their name, when ICC revised the point system to percentage points, sending India from no.1 to no.3.
New Zealand made it into the finals first, without playing a single Test outside their home, while India was asked to beat both Australia and England in the Test series if they wanted to qualify for the finals. India beat Australia in Australia 2-1 in what can be said their greatest ever victories and then pummeled England at home 3-1 to fix a date with Kane Williamson’s Kiwis at Lord’s London.
Considering that the match will be played in the summer at Lord’s Ground, we present to you India’s squad for the ICC World Test Championship final(Probable).
India’s squad for the ICC World Test Championship final(Probable)
Rohit Sharma ended the England Test series as the highest run-scorer including a brilliant century-161 in the first Test in Chennai. He was also the only batsman who looked sure on a rank turner in the pink ball, D/N Test in Ahmedabad.
He has played just one Test in England and scored 34 runs and has to prove his mettle as an opener in overseas Tests. He looked good in Australia recently, but only managed scores in the 30s and 40s. His form will be crucial for India in the WTC final.
Shubman Gill’s biggest challenge will come when he plays Test cricket in England where the ball moves both in the air and off the pitch. He has had problems with the ball coming into him and was caught there by James Anderson easily in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad.
If he plays in the WTC final at Lord’s, he’ll face the New Zealand pacers Trent Boult, Tim Southee, and Kyle Jamieson all of whom experts at moving the ball in the air, and Gill will have to be at his best to counter them.
Mayank Agarwal lost his place in the Indian playing XI due to his technical flaws and inability to counter true pace and swing on the tour in Australia. Agarwal’s high backlift became a problem for him as Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins used speed to get him out easily. He might only get a look in if Shubman Gill gets injured or unavailable for the match.
Virat Kohli (C)
Virat Kohli quelled his demons of the 2014 England Test tour when he slammed his maiden Test century in England in the 2018 series. As a captain, it was his first Test tour to England, but it resulted in a 4-1 drubbing for India.
He was good with the bat, but this time around, he has a chance to avenge India’s 2-0 Test series loss to New Zealand in 2020. He knows the ball with swing and seam and New Zealand has the bowlers to exploit the conditions and will need to be at his best both as a batsman and as a captain.
Cheteshwar Pujara had a cold outing against England in the recent Test series but has a decent record in England in Tests. He has played 9 Tests in England and scored 500 runs with one century and 2 half-centuries at an average of 29.41.
Pujara’s record against New Zealand is a good one, with 749 runs in 9 Tests against the Kiwis with two centuries and 4 half-centuries to his name at an average of 46.81 and the best score of 159. He will be crucial at Lord’s to negate the swing and seam generated by New Zealand bowlers.
Ajinkya Rahane has not been in good form off late in Tests. He has just three centuries in Tests since 2019 with one coming against Bangladesh and another against Australia. He has scored some half-centuries, but as a batsman, he has performed below par.
He is the vice-captain of the Indian team, and led India to perhaps their most important Test series win in Australia; but as a batsman, his performance will be of utmost importance.
Hanuma Vihari had made his Test debut in 2018 in England and since then has been one of the best batsmen in tough times for India. He was the star of India’s Test series win in West Indies in 2019 and then played an all-time epic knock on one leg in the SCG Test in Australia, which helped India draw the Test. However, his place in the Indian Playing XI will be under doubt given the balance of the team will be paramount.
Rishabh Pant (WK)
Rishabh Pant had made his debut for India in Tests in England in 2018 and since then has seen lots of ups and downs in his five-day cricket career. From being dropped from the team for fitness and form issues to scoring centuries in England and Australia, and then playing match-winning knocks as India beat England at home 3-1.
Pant will be the game changer for India when they play New Zealand in the World Test Championship at the Lord’s and an important member of the team.
Wriddhiman Saha (WK)
Wriddhiman Saha will be the second-choice wicketkeeper in the Indian team as the backup for Rishabh Pant. Though he is arguably the best keeper in the world, Rishabh Pant’s batting abilities and now much-improved keeping skills will mean that Saha will need to bide his time on the bench.
Ravindra Jadeja is missing the whole England series due to his dislocated and fractured thumb. He had suffered the injury during the Sydney Test against Australia and was out of commission since then. He was supposed to make his comeback in the England Test series at home but was later ruled out of the Tests and T20Is as his rehab was not completed.
Jadeja brings in the ability to put pressure on batsmen with his accurate bowling and his batting has reached new levels in all formats. He is considered to be a direct selection in the playing XI for the WTC final against New Zealand.
Ravichandran Ashwin proved why he is regarded as one of the greatest off-spinners of all-time. He completed 400 Test wickets and 600 international wickets in the Test series against England and earned a Player of the Series award for leading the Indian bowling attack.
He will be crucial for India against New Zealand, who similar to England batsmen, have their weaknesses against quality spin and Ashwin has the ability to extract spin on even an unfriendly surface like Lord’s in London.
Washington Sundar might not have done more with the ball, given that Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin polished off the wickets in heap, but his batting has been enough to warrant him a place in the Indian squad alone.
His 85* against Australia at Brisbane and 96* against England at Ahmedabad, were not only innings of high value, but also top class, keeping Sundar in consideration for the Indian team.
Axar Patel was the find of the Test series against England, picking 27 wickets with four fifers and one ten-wicket haul in just 3 Test matches. It was an amazing debut for the Gujarat left-arm spinner and he also showed some skills with the bat as well. However, he will be in direct competition with Ravindra Jadeja, who he replaced in the Test team for England series at home.
Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the Indian playing XI for the WTC final against New Zealand will depend on his ability to bowl 10-15 overs a day. Since his return from back surgery, Hardik has played as a pure batsman for Mumbai Indians and on the white-ball series in Australia.
He will be seen in the white-ball series against England as well, and was part of the Test squad as well, but didn’t play a single match, as the team management was keeping an eye on his bowling. If Pandya can return to bowling at full tilt and fitness, he might be picked in the playing XI as well.
Ishant Sharma will be leading the Indian pace attack given that he has vast experience of playing in England. Ishant recently played his 100th Test and also completed 300 wickets in the format as well.
Ishant’s best bowling figures in Tests came at Lord’s in 2014, where India will play the final of the WTC against New Zealand. Ishant’s height and experience will come in handy for India as they will have the likes of Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, and Ross Taylor to contend with.
Jasprit Bumrah played only two Tests against England and will miss the white-ball series due to personal reasons. However, the last time he was in England for the Test series, he made the England batsmen hop and duck and even got the ball to swing and move off the pitch as well.
Bumrah will be a key bowler for India if they want to win the ICC WTC final against New Zealand, as he has the skills to pick wickets against the run of the play.
Currently, Mohammad Shami has just recovered from the broken hand he suffered during the first Test in Australia at Adelaide. Since then, he was recuperating at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. Shami was seen bowling in India nets before the 3rd and 4th Test match against England and there were rumors of him joining the Indian team as well.
However, he was not considered for the remaining Tests and was also missing from the T20I series squad as well, as he was being given extra time to recuperate and also get ready for the ICC World Test Championship final after stint with Punjab Kings in the IPL 2021.
Umesh Yadav gained full fitness after suffering a calf injury during the Melbourne Test match against Australia, which ruled him out of the England Test series. Though he was added to the squad for the last two Test matches in Ahmedabad, given that the pitches spun, Yadav was not chosen in the final XI.
Yadav also has the experience of bowling in England conditions and might come in handy if India goes with three pacers and two spinners at Lord’s in the ICC WTC final. This might happen only if Hardik Pandya fails to gain full bowling fitness, but Umesh will also have to joust with the next person in this article.
Mohammed Siraj has gone from IPL joke to one of the best new talents on the cricketing scene at the moment. He was the leading wicket-taker for India in their 2-1 Test series win in Australia and then came into the Indian side for the England series and took wickets whenever he got chances.
He has the uncanny ability to take wickets when the tide is going the other way. Siraj also has pace on his side and an acute cricketing brain as well knows when to conserve his energy and when to give a burst to unsettle the batsmen.
India’s Ideal Playing XI For The ICC World Test Championship Final Vs New Zealand:
Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya/ Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
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