WTC Final: Key Battles To Look Out For

The exhilaration for the World Test Championship (WTC) Final is enlarging as the day comes nearer. It’s by far the most anticipated match after the World Cup 2019. Both the teams are geared up for the final which will go underway from the 18th of June at The Rose Bowl in Southampton.

The inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) which started in 2019 has been a sight to behold for viewers across the globe. Teams fought hard to make their way into that top 2 slots in the WTC table. Nonetheless, New Zealand made it to the final after they trounced West Indies and Pakistan. India advanced to the finals after registering a glorious series win down under and vanquishing England in the home Test series. Both teams are brimmed with talented and experienced players and hence it’ll very interesting to watch some key matchups.

Here’s a look at the top 5 key battles to watch out for in the WTC Final:

Virat Kohli vs Tim Southee:

Tim Southee has been an adversary for Virat Kohli over the years getting him 10 times in International Cricket (most by any bowler). The former got the better of the 32-year-old as many as 3 times in a Test series a year ago.

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Southee was all over the Indian batting line-up in the 2020 home Test series, ending as the highest wicket-taker picking 14 wickets in that series. His angle taking the ball away from the right-hand batsman gave rise to vexatious difficulties for the batsmen. Kohli couldn’t find a coherent way to tackle him as he got LBW in the first innings of the second Test off him. Moreover, Southee has been in great form throughout the World Test Championship being the highest wicket-taker for New Zealand in the tournament. He picked up 51 wickets including 3 fifers in 10 matches.

Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult:

It hasn’t been much longer since Rohit Sharma faced Trent Boult in the Mumbai Indians net sessions. The former has had some issues regarding the deliveries which come back into the batsman. And it’s going to be a hassle for Sharma to tackle Boult’s inswing deliveries with the new ball. Boult has reinforced the New Zealand bowling attack along with Southee, Jamieson and Wagner. He has taken 34 wickets in 9 matches in the tournament so far.

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New Zealand will expect its veteran left-arm pacer to deliver in the awaited final.

Kane Williamson vs Jasprit Bumrah:

When we talk about New Zealand’s batting line-up, Williamson is the first name that strikes our head. And there’s a particular reason behind it, he has been the backbone for that batting line-up over the years. Having scored 817 runs at a healthy average of 58.35 in 9 matches, he stands well and truly above others. Hence, for India to win the precious ICC Trophy, they need to get this man. Williamson has adopted an efficient approach which has helped him ameliorate his technique. He never even attempts to play the balls which are too wide of the off-stump, and that’s the reason you won’t see him throwing his wicket at any stage of the game. Patience has been his main weapon and to break that patience, India will need someone who can surprise the batsman.

Do you remember Shaun Marsh’s wicket in the 2018 India tour of the Australia series?

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In the final over before lunch, batsman’s only aim to block, block and block. Wicket is the last thing the batsman could think of in that over. Marsh knew Bumrah will try to employ the situation in his favour. He was prepared for the thunderbolt but a slower ball from Bumrah saw Marsh decamp. An eye-opener like this will be very handful against a batsman like Williamson. Hence, the contest between these two would be a riveting one.

Tom Latham vs Ravichandran Ashwin:

Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been the highest wicket-taker for India in the tournament so far taking 67 wickets in 13 matches. His strategies down under against the best in the business were mind-blowing. He’s very clever in terms of planning dismissals and he would be more than helpful for India against left-handers (if he gets to play). Ashwin’s record against left-handers picking more than half of his total wickets in Test cricket proves his efficiency against them. Tom Latham has been the second-best batsman in the WTC cycle for New Zealand, just behind the skipper.

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His healthy average top of the order makes him a lethal contender and India will have an eye on him. He might face some difficulties facing Ashwin with a couple of slips and a gully in place.

Cheteshwar Pujara vs Kyle Jamieson:

Cheteshwar Pujara has been the backbone for India in Test Cricket over the years. The fact that he soaks an ample number of balls not only makes the ball lose its shine but also gives enough time for the batsman to assess the conditions. It’ll be a grind for the Kiwi bowlers to get him. Kyle Jamieson has proven to be successful against him as he got better of him twice in the 2020 test series.

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The extra bounce which Jameson extracts from the surface makes the batsman uncomfortable in his position. Hence, it’ll be an exciting contest and might determine the position of India in the match.

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