WTC Final: 3 key player battles to watch out for | 3 key player battles to watch out for in the upcoming World Test Championship Final
The stakes are high as the World Test Championship (WTC) title will be on the line as the top two Test sides in the World will lock horns in a one-off Test at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton starting June 18.
The inaugural World Test Championship was launched in 2019, setting the stage for a long tournament in red-ball cricket to determine the World Test Champion. It garnered good attention from the viewers, which was the main reason why ICC decided to upstage the tournament. After 27 series and 71 matches long wait, New Zealand and India finished at the top of the WTC points table to seal the berth for the WTC final.
There are match-winners aplenty on either side of the net and there will be some key contests that will determine the outcome of the match.
Let’s have a look at the key battles ahead of the summit clash:
Virat Kohli vs Tim Southee
No other bowler in the world has dismissed Virat more than Southee in international cricket. Southee enjoys a stellar record against the batting maestro, dismissing him on 10 occasions across formats. Talking about red-ball cricket, in particular, Southee has got the better of the Indian skipper three times. The right-arm pacer also has been the most successful bowler for his country in the WTC cycle, having picked 51 wickets in 10 games.
With Dukes in hand, Southee certainly will again ask some tough questions with the ball. The Kiwi paceman has got the ability to move the ball in air and off the seam with control makes him a nut to crack. Virat had a great time in England last time in 2018 and taking the confidence from his last tour to the UK the Indian run machine will be looking to counter the Southee factor in Southampton.
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
A new ball bowler like Trent Boult always has the baton in his hands to scalp important wickets at the top. With 34 wickets in 9 games in the WTC cycle, Boult again is expected to take the new ball and he’ll have to be at his best against the in-form Rohit Sharma, who has scored 1030 runs in WTC and has been India’s main source of runs at the top of the order.
Boult’s left arm angle certainly will ask tough questions from his Mumbai Indians skipper as the alien conditions are expected to favour the quicks. Also, watch out for how Rohit deals with the in-swinging delivery. If Rohit can somehow manage to play out the first spell of New Zealand’s left-arm quick without losing his wicket then it’ll be a victory for the Indian opener. The Kiwi paceman has dismissed Rohit once in Test cricket and would love to add more to that tally in the upcoming Final.
Tom Latham versus Ishant Sharma
Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma is the most experienced Test cricketer in the current Indian squad. Since the 2014 tour to New Zealand it has been a dramatic turnaround for the right arm pacer in Test cricket as his significant improvement with the red ball has been one of the main reasons of India’s overseas success in the last few years.
Ishant in particular has a personal liking for the left-handed batsman; he challenges both the inside and outside edge of the left-hander and that’s where New Zealand’s incumbent opener Tom Latham has to be careful while opening the innings for the Black Caps. Latham like Ishant has gone from strength-to-strength in his Test career and has performed in every condition, which makes him a tough player to plan against as a bowling unit. The left-hander is equally impressive on both sides of the wicket and Ishant will look to unsettle him early in his innings by testing him in the corridor of uncertainty and create the best chance to take his wicket.
Talking about matchups Ishant has bowled six overs against Latham in Test cricket, getting him out twice which suggests that Latham-Ishant battle again will be the one to watch out for in the WTC Final.