WTC Final: Player-by-Player Comparison of Team India’s 15-Man Squad Versus New Zealand’s
WTC Final: Player-by-Player Comparison of Team India’s 15-Man Squad Versus New Zealand’s

Both India and New Zealand, on Tuesday, announced their final 15-man squads for the World Test Championship final to be played in Southampton from June 18. Some key names from recent Test series were excluded from Team India while Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson is expected to make a return being forced due to injury during […]

Both India and New Zealand, on Tuesday, announced their final 15-man squads for the World Test Championship final to be played in Southampton from June 18. Some key names from recent Test series were excluded from Team India while Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson is expected to make a return being forced due to injury during the England Test series.

 

(Scroll down for final squads)

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New Zealand claimed a historic 1-0 Test series on English soil recently, in the build-up to the WTC final. Despite making around half-a-dozen changes after the first Test, which was drawn, New Zealand claimed an eight-wicket win, with what some called a second-string side.

 

It has boosted their form and put them in pole position ahead of the big final.

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But the Indians will also come in to the final on the back of consecutive series wins – away against Australia and at home against England. Here’s a comparison of the squads to analyse how things stand on paper:

 

Batting

Team India retained their two specialist openers in Rohit Sharma and Shubhman Gill, while excluding Mayank Agrawal and KL Rahul from the final list. Gill has been running hot-and-cold after an impressive debut series Down Under while Rohit has been, well Rohit, making game-changing contributions out of nowhere. Cheteshwar Pujara will provide his usual calmness at one-down.

The Kiwi top-order on the other hand will be buoyed by the remarkable Devon Conway, who scored a double century at Lord’s on debut. Tom Latham is expected to be his opening partner as Will Young will provide cover on the bench. Captain Williamson returns at number three from a brief absence, and will look to improve on his tally of 14 runs from his last two innings.

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India’s middle-order will retain the high-profile services of captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane. Kohli hasn’t scored an international hundred in almost two years and this would be just the right stage to end this unlikely spell.

 

It will be interesting to see if lower-order batsman Hanuma Vihari makes the final eleven, given Team India’s preference to play five bowlers overseas. Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha are the wicketkeeping options, but the former is expected to play the final, building on his match-winning antics in the recent past.

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The New Zealand middle-order enjoyed a good series against England. Both Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls saw off the threat from the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to propel their team to decent totals. Gloveman BJ Watling will also return from an injury lay-off to play the final Test match of his career, with Tom Blundell as his back-up.

 

Both units bat deep. Team India could fashion the skills of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Aswhin, and the resilient Ishant Sharma while the Kiwi side can choose from Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, at the tail end.

Bowling

The NZ pacers made life difficult for the English batsmen earlier this month. Tim Southee picked seven wickets in the first game at Lord’s while the hunting pack of Trent Boult, Wagner and Matt Henry led a dominant victory for their team in the second encounter at Edgbaston.

The Kiwis have picked Ajaz Patel as their premier spinner ahead of bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner. The versatile de Grandhomme will be their fifth bowler in what could be a case of bowling riches for the Black Caps.

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The Indian team have selected seamers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj in the 15-man squad. The first three are likely to make the playing eleven, while Siraj also remains in contention after impressing in previous outings.

 

Kohli & Co could field both Ashwin and Jadeja to bolster bowling options as well as batting depth, especially after the omission of all-rounders Washington Sundar, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur from the eventual scheme of things.

India squad: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja. Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj.

New Zealand Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner BJ Watling and Will Young

Image credits: Twitter/@bcci, @blackcaps

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