India and New Zealand will play the World Test Championship final at Southampton from June 18. This will be the first time that the two nations will play a Test match on a neutral ground. The English condition at Southampton favours pace bowling. The winner might be decided which pace bowling attack does well on those five days of the WTC final.
CricChronicle makes an analysis of the two teams’ pace bowling attack to find out which is a better one.
Indian pace bowling unit for WTC final
Pace bowlers in the squad: Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav
They have a total combined Test experience of 241 matches with 721 wickets to their credit. All these are first-choice pace bowlers, and hence, India is going with their complete pace bowling unit in the WTC final. In the Australian tour, Mohammed Siraj was the most senior pace bowler with 2 Tests in the deciding Test at Brisbane. For the WTC final, India will have their most experienced pacer Ishant Sharma for the WTC final and England Tests.
So, how Indian pacers could fare in the final?
Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Siraj are confirmed for the first three pace bowling slots for the WTC final. The final pacer’s spot could be a toss-up between Thakur and Shami, but the former has an edge due to his better batting skills.
He has the necessary experience of over 100 Tests, and he would be expected to lead the attack. Ishant’s experience could come in handy in tough English conditions. He could set up New Zealand batsmen and claim their wickets. He is more of a line-and-length bowler who could draw false strokes from batsmen and get their wickets.
He is a strike bowler, and India needs him to claim early New Zealand wickets, and make inroads into the Kiwis batting unit. His battle against New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson would be interesting to watch.
Siraj has been on a dream run. He has not looked back after making a dream Test debut in the Australian tour. He would come in as first-change and is expected to keep up the pressure. His skills to move the ball either way could help India to stop the New Zealand middle-order from staging a comeback.
His slower deliveries are quite effective, and he would be ideal with the old ball, and could get reverse swing going on early in the innings.
Other pace bowlers for WTC final
Shami is more effective in the second innings when he is comfortable with the pitch and adjusts his line and length accordingly to fox batsmen.
He is fiery, fast, and unplayable at times. But Umesh would have to wait for his chances unless a first-playing XI bowler gets injured or is unavailable. The thing that could go against Umesh is that he could be inconsistent and wayward at times.
India’s standby pacers for WTC final
Arzan Nagwaswalla, Avesh Khan and Prasidh Krishna
|Stanbys pacers||Wickets||FC matches|
All the three pacers are yet to play Tests but have done well in First-Class matches. They might get an opportunity to make a debut in the long tour as injuries are inevitable. Just like how India discovered Siraj in the Australian series, India might discover another bowling star in this long tour. Prasidh could be preferred first as he is fast and intimidating. Avesh is the in-form bowler, while Nagwaswalla could be the surprise element to rattle the opposition.
New Zealand’s pace bowling unit for WTC final
New Zealand’s recent success has been due to their pace bowling unit that has performed impressively in the home series recently. NZ have won their last 3 Test series at home by a 2-0 margin, registering a 6-match winning run. Here’s the list of NZ bowlers who are part of the WTC final squad against India.
|Colin de Grandhomme||47||24|
New Zealand bowlers carry a rich haul of close to 1000 Test wickets in international cricket, while Indian bowlers have just over 700 Test wickets. Besides, the conditions in England would suit New Zealand bowlers better as it is similar to the one back home. So, how Kiwi pacers could fare in WTC final?
Possible four pacers who could feature in NZ XI
For Boult, it would be playing against some IPL teammates such as Rohit Sharma. So, Rohit would have a hang of Boult, having played the Kiwi bowler in Mumbai Indians nets. Williamson would give the new ball to Boult to dismiss Rohit early. Rohit is always susceptible to incoming delivery early on in the innings. And Boult, being a left-arm bowler, is skilled in getting the ball into the right-hander at will. It will be interesting to see who will win this battle.
Southee relishes playing in Tests, and he has a better record in the longer version of the game. Currently, he is leading the bowling pack and provides the initial breakthrough. His consistency is remarkable. He would be raring to have a go at the Indian batsmen come WTC final.
Wagner is a strong character who loves to bowl even with injuries. He has been the X-factor in the New Zealand bowling attack and has managed to claim a spot in the XI despite strong competition for places. He is also a handy bat, and that just deepens New Zealand batting line-up.
It was great to see Jamieson in action in IPL 2021. His height gives him an advantage on bouncy pitches. And hence, he is a confirmed selection in the XI for the WTC final. Having played with Virat Kohli in RCB, he would have picked up at least one weakness, if not more, of the Indian captain and he would look to exploit that in the WTC final.
Possible reserve pacers for WTC final
Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry
Doug Bracewell is considered a good talent. Thanks to the abundance of pace bowling riches in the NZ squad, he has to wait for his chances. He is as good to replace any first-choice pacers in the XI. And that gives Kane Williamson a good selection headache. The same goes for Matt Henry, as he is second in the queue after Bracewell for a spot in the XI.
Pace bowling all-rounders that NZ can bank on
Colin de Grandhomme or Daryl Mitchell could fill up the lone all-rounder’s spot in the XI. The former is the best of the two as he is a better pace bowler than Mitchell. But Mitchell has been terrific with the bat so far, and could pip de Grandhomme as New Zealand have first-choice pacers to do the job for them.
NZ has a better pace bowling unit that relishes bowling on conditions that England offers. The Indian pace bowling unit could not be ignored either as they just raise up their game when they get bowling-friendly conditions to bowl on. Australia found it the hard way and lost to the second or third-string pace bowling unit of India recently. New Zealand has to be cautious when batting up to Bumrah and Co. And for Kohli and his men, they have to play fearless cricket and show great “intent”.