The historic day is almost upon us, when India takes on New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final starting Friday. Over the years, there has been a tete-a-tete over how Test cricket is losing its sheen, and when the ICC outlined its plans for the unique idea, many were excited by the prospects. And to its credit, the WTC has lived up to its expectation and the summit clash to be played in Southampton will no doubt will raise the excitement and remind one and all that Test cricket is the pinnacle of cricket. We review three cricketers each, who could be the kingmakers for their sides in the high-octane WTC final clash.
WTC final key player: Virat Kohli
Against Bangladesh in 2019. That was the last time Virat Kohli reached 3 figures in international cricket the last time. The Indian captain is due for a big one and there’s no better occasion than the WTC final to make it his own. Kohli’s previous record and tours of England defines how the right-handed maestro learned from each of his previous outings in the country. With the incentive of leading the nation to its maiden WTC win, Kohli can be expected to dictate terms if he gets a steady start at the beginning and his eye in.
WTC final key player: Rishabh Pant
Pant’s rise has been staggering since the fag-end of 2020. The 23-year-old wicket-keeper played a significant role in India’s 2-1 win against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. He also played a crucial role in the four-match Test series against England as the Men in Blue thrashed the Three Lions 3-1. Therefore, he would be one of those players to watch out for in the ICC WTC final.
WTC final key player: Ravichandran Ashwin
In the winter of 2017, Ravichandran Ashwin took 27 wickets at 17.77 in six Test innings against New Zealand in the home series. Four years down the line, and in English conditions, the veteran off-spinner could yet play a crucial role like that. Southampton offers a fair pitch that spins when the weather is dry, as it has been all month. Ashwin still could be India’s most undervalued weapon in WTC final.
WTC final key player: Kane Williamson
The top-ranked Test batter will be equally dangerous as before despite returning from an elbow injury. Williamson has been in tremendous form in the longest format of the game with two double centuries in the summer of 2020-21 (251 and 238 against the West Indies and Pakistan respectively). He scored a total of three centuries across four innings to stamp his authority and issue a warning to the oppositions.
WTC final key player: Devon Conway
Devon Conway, a South Africa-born cricketer, has taken the world by storm with his debut performance against England. In just three Test innings. Conway has scored over 300 runs, including a double ton at the Lords. Surely, cricket fans, especially the Kiwis, would be hoping that the 29-year-old continues his form against India at the WTC final.
ICC announce broadcast and digital distribution plans for inaugural World Test Championship Final
All details here 👇🏾https://t.co/ZD024wWMoQ
— ICC Media (@ICCMediaComms) June 15, 2021
WTC final key player: Trent Boult
Trent Boult has often been the thorn in Indian batters’ flesh. The last time India played New Zealand on English soil, Boult was the tormentor in chief-getting the Kiwis through to the World Cup final. Boult enjoys bowling in England. He has picked up 27 wickets in five Tests, including two five-wicket hauls. He averages 22.40 in England with the ball.
Both teams possess immense depth in their squads overall, consisting of some high-profile specialist batters and bowlers. Test cricket is all about patience and winning small battles. The team that effectively does that, will come up trumps in Southampton on June 22.