Devon Conway and Ajaz Patel earned their finals call up for New Zealand while Shardul Thakur and K.L. Rahul missed the cut for India’s final 15.
The inaugural edition of the World Test Championship is upon us and the two gladiators have shown their first hands. While New Zealand made light work of England – dominating in the two-Test series by winning it 1-0 – the Indians, on the other hand, played an intra-squad practice game to get back any lost match sharpness.
Also Read – ICC announces big changes to global events
With only two out-and-out openers, India may have finalised their opening combination for the final against New Zealand. Despite serious questions about his technique in India’s 3-1 home series win against England, Shubman Gill has retained his spot with Rohit Sharma, with Hanuma Vihari the likely backup option as both Karnataka boys Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul have missed out.
The middle-order chooses itself as the trio of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane have been the pillar of this batting line-up for the last two-to-three years. Rishab Pant will definitely get the nod as the no. 6 ahead of the returning Ravindra Jadeja and all-important Ravichandran Ashwin.
Virat has decided to take five seamers for this one-off final; Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma are absolutely certain to start the final – barring any late injury scar – while the trio of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj will battle it out for the third seamer slot.
Jadeja’s inclusion meant his replacement for the England series, Axar Patel, misses out after making quite a splash following his 27 wickets in three Tests at an astonishing average of 10.59. However, Jadeja’s inclusion is backed by his performances in the recently suspended Indian Premier League for the Chennai Super Kings, where he showed great form and athleticism.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishab Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.
New Zealand Squad
After a dream start to his Test career – scoring 200 at Lords’ and following it up with a superb 80 in the first innings of the second Test – Devon Conway has rightfully earned his place in New Zealand’s 15-man squad, and so has Ajaz Patel, as New Zealand have announced him as their specialist spinner for the final starting on 18th.
Ajaz picked up four wickets and was economical for the Kiwis in the second Test at Edgbaston as the Kiwi pacers – Matt Henry, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner – ran riot in Birmingham. Captain Kane Williamson and retiring wicketkeeper BJ Watling missed the second Test against England as the duo failed to clear their final fitness tests. They are, however, expected to feature against India.
Tom Latham and Devon Conway will be given the responsibility of opening against a formidable Indian bowling lineup, while Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls will form the backbone of the Kiwis’ batting order. Colin de Grandhomme and BJ Watling will be key lower down the order while Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee are expected to be the four specialist bowlers.
“There’s had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side,” head coach Gary Stead said. “It is not easy to say goodbye to guys who have given so much to the group. Doug, Jacob and Rachin have been selfless in their attitude to helping the team and supporting those in the playing XI.”
Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner are the ones left out after the two-Test series against England.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham (vc), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.
Rule Changes and Weather Update
The pitch at the Ageas Bowl is often a slower one, something similar in nature to the subcontinental pitches. Runs have been scored here in the past, but predominantly in the first innings. Hampshire curator Simon Lee has said that the pitch could offer some pace and carry depending on conditions.
“I just want to get something out that has some pace, bounce and carry in the pitch. It can be a hard thing to do in England as the weather doesn’t help us most of the time, but the forecast in the build-up is good with a lot of sun, so we are hopeful that we’ll get some pace and a hard pitch without over-rolling it and killing it. But I hope some spin too will come into play,” Simon told ESPNCricinfo.
It is interesting to note that the weather is generally good in the lead up to the finals, but short spells of showers are expected throughout Days 1, 3 and 4. Damp outfield and lateral movement can be expected on Day 1 with heavy rainfall forecasted for 17th.
In situations where a stoppage in play results in losing more than an hour due to rain, the ICC can allocate a reserve day’s play to make up the lost time during the regular days of the final. The reserve day has been scheduled to ensure five full days of play, and it can only be used only if the lost playing time cannot be recovered through the normal provisions for each day.
The ICC match referee will update the teams about the way in which the reserve day may be used, and the final decision on whether the reserve day needs to be used will be announced at the scheduled start of the last hour on the fifth day. The maximum duration for the reserve day shall be a minimum of 330 minutes or 83 overs – whichever comes later – plus the last hour.
In case of a tie or a drawn match at the end of five full days of play, ICC will announce India and New Zealand as the joint winners of the tournament.