India take on New Zealand in the World Test Championship final 2021 starting today at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
India’s last taste of Test cricket came in their 3-1 series win over England at home back in March, and a historic 2-1 win before that in Australia. With the playing XI announced, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill are set to open the innings, and explosive wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant will be batting at No. 6.
Captain Virat Kohli, Chesetwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane will be part of a strong middle order. The management has decided to field both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, adding some much-needed balance and depth to the side. Bumrah, Shami and Ishant make up the strongest pace trio available to the team.
New Zealand’s preparations for the World Test Championship final could not have gone any better. They have just beaten England in a 2-match Test series, securing a draw at Lord’s before winning the second Test at Edgbaston. This was their first series win in England in 22 years.
Opener Devon Conway will open the batting alongside Tom Latham, with captain Williamson, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls to follow. The riches in the pace bowling department means Boult, Southee, Jamieson, Wagner and Matt Henry will all be competing for spots in the team. Ajaz Patel will be the lone spinner. BJ Watling will play in his final match before retiring from all forms of cricket.
Both the teams are equally strong on paper and have their own strengths. Although rain is expected on all match days, an even contest is in store as these two sides battle it out to become the first-ever winners of the World Test Championship in Southampton
- Match: India vs New Zealand, WTC Final
- Venue: The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
- Date & Time: June 18, 2021, at 3:30 PM IST/11 AM Local
Probable Playing XI
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Chesteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (WK), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult
Weather and Pitch Report
Southampton is expected to have cloudy and wet conditions on all days of the match. Rain interruptions are expected in the match. The temperature will be around 18 degrees during the game.
The pitch at the Ageas Bowl has been a balanced wicket over the years, making for some exciting cricket. The surface will allow for good stroke play, with the seam movement keeping the batters on their toes. Both pacers and spinners have been very successful at this venue, with pacers in the initial few days and spinners from the 4th day onward. The average first-innings score at this venue has been 337 runs.
Teams batting first at this venue have had a decent record, winning 2 out of the 6 matches played. However, given the weather forecast, bowling first will be a good option. Any total above 300 runs in the first innings will be a good total on this track.
Top Fantasy Picks
- Rohit Sharma has had success in Test cricket since he started opening the innings at the end of 2019. He has scored 4 centuries in 11 Tests and provided solid starts to the innings in most of the games. He is naturally an attacking batter and will be key to India’s chances.
- Rishabh Pant is in the form of his life. He was the star of the series in Australia earlier in the year and against England at home recently. He has scored 4 half centuries and a century in his last seven Tests. He was in sublime form with the bat during the T20 season too.
- Jasprit Bumrah is undoubtedly the leader of the Indian pace attack. He has played plenty of Test matches in overseas conditions. He has taken 83 wickets in just 19 Test matches, 79 of which have been away from home.
- Devon Conway could not have asked for a better start to his Test career. He scored a brilliant double century on debut at Lord’s and followed it up by making a brilliant 80 in the second Test. He looks calm and composed at the crease and can score big.
- Kane Williamson had a poor series against England, making just 14 runs in the two innings of the first Test. He is currently No. 2 in Test rankings and averages 53.6 in Tests, having scored 24 centuries. He has a good record against India and will look to continue that here.
- Trent Boult will have the advantage of being a left-arm bowler as most of the Indian batters get troubled by the fast incoming balls that he can bowl consistently. He has taken 31 wickets in his last seven Tests, including 11 wickets in the two Tests against India at home.
Howzat Dream Team
- Wicketkeeper: R Pant
- Batsmen: R Sharma, C Pujara, D Conway, K Williamson
- All-rounder: R Jadeja
- Bowlers: J Bumrah, M Shami, T Boult, K Jamieson, N Wagner
- Captain: D Conway/T Boult
- Vice Captain: R Sharma/R Jadeja
NOTE: The Howzat dream team above is just a suggestion. You can make your match prediction and play fantasy cricket matches. Also, don’t forget to make any necessary changes to your team once the actual playing 11 is announced by each team (30 minutes before the start of the match) as some players you have selected might not be part of the team suggested.
Get fantasy cricket tips on your favorite fantasy sports app and select your own team, Howzat!