WTC final will be played between India and NZ from June 18.
India is set to play the World Test Championship or WTC final against New Zealand at Southampton, UK from June 18. India is taking a big squad to the UK to cover up for Covid-19 related issues, and any possible injuries. CricChronicle takes a look at the best XI India could field in the WTC final.
Likely openers in WTC final
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill
The Hitman is the first-choice opener for the WTC final. The only bone of contention is that the Hitman has a poor Test record as an opener overseas. But the team management would definitely go for form and put faith in Rohit.
Gill has had below-average Test series against England at home and was susceptible to the incoming delivery. Also, he didn’t set the IPL on fire either. But India would not like to break the Rohit-Gill pair and persist with them.
Mayank Agarwal is technically equipped to handle English conditions. However, he probably would have to wait till the England Test series for a chance in the XI. KL Rahul will have to wait longer for his chance in Test cricket once he returns to full fitness.
Same middle-order for WTC final
C Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane
The middle-order picks itself, and a lot would depend on them if India wishes to win the first WTC final. Kohli would be motivated to bag his first ICC title as the senior Indian captain. Pujara and Rahane are due for a big score as much as Kohli’s. And that would be motivation enough for them to do well on the tour.
Pant has been the match-winner for India in the Australia and England Test series. He would continue to be the X-factor in the XI. Pant would remain the first-choice keeper even if W Saha is fit and available.
The Ageas Bowl in Southampton, the venue of the WTC final, does not favour traditional spinners. However, a spinner could contain the opposition with his disciplined bowling. Here, Ravindra Jadeja could be apt for this role. Plus, his improved batting adds depth to the batting attack. He edges out R Ashwin for the lone spinner’s spot in this XI as he is a better batsman. And his superb fielding is a big bonus.
Pacers for WTC final against New Zealand
Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj
India is likely to go with four pacers as the Southampton pitch is conducive for this type of bowling. Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma pick themselves. Bumrah can take wickets early in the innings. Ishant brings all his experience to the fore to set up batsmen. Siraj could not be ignored either as he is the in-form bowler at the moment. He has had done pretty well in the Australian tour, and the England Test series at home.
The toss-up could be between Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami for the fourth pacer’s spot. Thakur has an edge as he could bat as well, and could add depth to the batting line-up.
Best XI: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, C Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj