Since the suspension of IPL due to a breach in bio-bubble, the focus of Indian fans is turning towards the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. Last week only, BCCI announced the squad for the mega encounter as well as the following England Test series. Some new names like Arzan Nagwaswalla and Abhimanyu Easwaran have been introduced in the standby players' list, however, their chances of playing any game for India this summer seem bleak.
India and New Zealand have had quality players over the years, but the two teams have faced a different fate, especially in the past two decades. While New Zealand have struggled to grab any of the major ICC trophies since 2000, India have won all of them in that span of time. However, this summer, the Kiwis have an excellent chance to break the jinx by bagging the final at WTC. However, their opponents India are no less than them and hence a thrilling game is on the cards.
Before the anticipated encounter actually takes place and the players from both the sides showcase their class and experience, here we have tried to make a combined XI from the squad of both the sides. The list starts with —
1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit has been in sensational form since his renaissance in Test cricket after he was promoted to open the batting, just like he has been doing in the limited-overs format. Under the WTC bracket, he has played 11 matches and scored 1030 runs at an average of 64.37. Keeping in mind his aggressive batting style, any captain would pick him without a doubt.
2. Tom Latham
Latham has been a reliable player for the Kiwis at the top. The opener has scored 680 runs in 11 games with the highest score of 154. His patience in playing dot balls is the signature of his batting as it irritates the bowlers and forces them to bowl loose deliveries.
3. Kane Williamson (Captain)
Kane should lead the combined XI as he is known to handle pressure situations well. Also, he will be the pick for the number 3 batting position as he has scored 817 runs in 9 matches at WTC with an average of above 58. In his last game against Pakistan, Williamson smashed a whopping 238.
4. Virat Kohli (Vice-captain)
Any team will be incomplete if there is no Virat Kohli as he is one of the best batsman in world cricket. Although he's been shy of a hundred since 2019, the stage is set for Kohli to get his 71st international ton. He is also our pick for the vice-captain because of his great record in Tests as captain.
5. Ajinkya Rahane
India's Test vice-captain will come in at number five because of his decent form with the bat. The right-handed batsman has been India's batting mainstay for a long time now and has plundered 1095 runs across 17 games under the WTC bracket. Additionally, he is also an outstanding catcher at the slip.
6. Rishabh Pant (Wicketkeeper)
Pant has been in scintillating form with the bat in recent times, irrespective of the format. However, his recent heroics in the red-ball cricket proves that the is undoubtedly one of the best in the business. Pant was the leading run-scorer in Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia with 274 runs in 3 matches with a batting average of 68.50. With time he is also improving on his wicketkeeping. Nevertheless, the guy possesses the ability to turn the game around very quickly with his hard-hitting style of play.
7. Ravindra Jadeja
'Sir' Jadeja is the best candidate at number 7. Not only he is excellent in bowling left-arm spin, but can also keep the scorecard moving with his reliable batting. Jaddu is also recognised as the best fielder in world cricket. These combine to make him an all-around package for any team.
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
We are not sure if English conditions will suit him or not, but Ashwin is in the form of his life. In Australia, he managed to scalp 12 wickets in 3 matches with his consistent efforts. Ashwin is third on the list of wicket-takers in WTC with 67 wickets across 13 games. He also provides depth in the batting order.
9. Kyle Jamieson
The 6 feet 8 inches tall bowler is difficult to face in the English bowling conditions. Kyle has taken 36 wickets in just 6 Test matches, and has also scored 226 runs at an average of 56.5. The all-rounder is going to be a key player in the finale.
10. Trent Boult
Boult has been a worry for all almost the batsmen in the world, especially with the new ball. His beautiful inswinging deliveries are a treat to watch and a nightmare for the ones facing him. Meanwhile, the Indian batters need to be alert for his surprising bouncers too in the English conditions. Boult has taken 34 wickets in 17 matches for his team in the WTC cycle.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
It was tough to leave out Neil Wagner, who has been bowling really well in Test cricket for the last few years. However, Bumrah is just slightly better at picking wickets. The Indian pacer is recognised for his unusual short bowling run-up and still generating great pace. He can confuse any batsmen at the highest level with his variety of quick and slower balls.