World Test Championship Final: Does New Zealand have better pacers than India?

As the World Test Championship Final comes nearer, it has been announced that overcast conditions could be expected during the match. Given this, both India and New Zealand will look to build teams that can work best in such conditions.

Traditionally, overcast conditions have always favoured the swing bowlers. There have also been instances where few swing bowlers weren’t able to control the swing in their bowling while playing in England. To add to it, England uses the Dukes ball which offers much more swing than the Kookaburra ball traditionally used in New Zealand. India uses SG ball in tests, and this too offers much less swing when compared to the Dukes ball.

India’s Pace Line-Up:

What will the pace attack of the Indian team look like?

India’s pace line-up will certainly have its premier pacer, Jasprit Bumrah followed by the highly experienced Ishant Sharma. Mohammad Shami, given his recent run, should be the third pacer. While these three seem obvious, now comes up an important discussion. How will India’s bowling attack look like? This gives India 3 options for the playing XI:

  1. Choose Shardul Thakur as the fourth pacer and have one of the all-rounders Ashwin or Jadeja in the team. Given his form with the bat in the last two years, Jadeja wins over Ashwin.
  2. Choose both Ashwin and Jadeja in the team. This will give India 3 pacers and 2 spin-bowling all-rounders.
  3. Choose an extra batsman in the team and have a four-man bowling attack. Most likely, this extra batsman would be Hanuma Vihari who can chip in with the ball. Once again, Jadeja makes it to the squad along with the 3 mentioned bowlers.

Given the conditions and the Duke ball factor, the first option looks possible for the game.

Do Indian pacers have experience in English conditions?

Expectedly, Ishant Sharma is the Indian pacer with the most experience in England. Ishant has played 12 Test matches in England picking 43 wickets. He has two five-wicket hauls in England with his best being 7/74 in Lord’s which is also his career-best. To add to it, Ishant had a very successful county stint with Sussex.

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Ishant Sharma celebrates a wicket for Sussex

Mohammad Shami has played 8 matches in England and picked 21 wickets. He also has a four-wicket haul in Rose Bowl, where the WTC Final will be played. Then comes Jasprit Bumrah who has played only 3 Tests in England, but picked 14 wickets there. He has bowled well in each of these three matches and also has a five-wicket haul. Shardul Thakur is yet to play a Test match in England.

Given this, we understand that barring Shardul Thakur, the other three main pacers have had good experiences with the English conditions. Jasprit Bumrah had also voiced once that he enjoys bowling with the Dukes ball.

“I love bowling with Dukes. It seams, it swings, so basically you have a little bit of help, otherwise, it is difficult to be a fast bower with grounds getting shorter and wickets getting flatter. So if the ball does something, it makes an even competition. If there is no help you have very few things to play with so it becomes a lot more difficult for a bowler. I enjoy bowling with the Duke ball more than any other ball.’

Jasprit Bumrah

India’s three main pacers: Bumrah, Shami and Ishant (Image: BCCI | Twitter)

New Zealand’s Pace Line-Up:

What will the pace attack of the New Zealand team look like?

Though New Zealand has not officially announced its squad for the WTC final, it will most likely be the same squad that is playing the Test series against England. The experienced combo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee would make it to the team along with the latest sensation, Kyle Jamieson. Looking at their recent matches, New Zealand would prefer to play a fourth pacer with Neil Wagner taking that spot.

Do New Zealand pacers have experience in English conditions?

The biggest drawback with each of the Kiwi pacers is that they have loads of experience of playing at home grounds, but have toured very little. For instance, Tim Southee has 13 years of experience in Test cricket but has played only 4 games in England picking 21 wickets. Similarly, Trent Boult with 10 years experience in Test cricket has played only 5 games in England picking 20 wickets.

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New Zealand’s three experienced pacers: Southee, Wagner and Boult

Neil Wagner has played only 2 games in England and picked 7 wickets while Kyle Jamieson is yet to play an overseas game in Tests. However, Wagner has the experience of playing county cricket in England.

Given this, though New Zealand pacers have great experience in cricket, they surely lag behind the Indian pacers when it comes to playing in English conditions. But, given that New Zealand has a Test series against England in England right before the WTC Final will be a huge bonus for them. To add to it, New Zealand had also tried using the Duke ball in some home games before discontinuing it.

While there is experience on the side of Indian bowlers, there is some good warm-up for New Zealand bowlers in the form of the series with England. This leaves both the teams on the same pedestal. What a riveting contest this Final is gonna be!

Featured Image: New Zealand Cricket | Instagram

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