We are hardly a day away from the start of perhaps one of the most important Test matches in the history of Indian cricket. At this moment, one can’t think of a better quote than what independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said in his famous speech on the eve of the country’s independence. “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new….” Indeed this is such a moment owing to many reasons but the biggest of it all is that for the first time there is one trophy, title to play for and for the first time in Indian cricket history, a Test is being played at a neutral venue.
Of course, the inaugural cycle had its own share of limitations but the success of the first will give enormous confidence to the guardians of the sport to come up with efficient ways of gauging the best Test team in the world. For now, one has got to believe that India and New Zealand, the two finalists who will have a go at each other on Friday at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, have been the best sides over the course of the two-year period.
The preparations have been intense heading into this game. While the Kiwis got proper Test match practice in English conditions prior to this one-off game, India are at the venue since June 3 and should know exactly what to expect from the skies, the pitch, and the Dukes ball. With some star players packed in both the teams, there is no doubt that it will be a high intensity game, however it is the little battles between the two teams that will make it even more interesting.
Here are top 3 battles to watch out for in the ICC World Test Championship final —
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult battle has to be one of the top on the list. While the Hitman is not the same Test player ever since he started opening the innings, his struggles against the left-arm swing bowler is well known. With Boult being a left-arm pacer of the highest quality and knowing a bit or two about Rohit’s game not only from studying his international career but during their time together at the Mumbai Indians, this is expected to be one top quality battle. The winner will surely get his team off to a rocking start since this is likely to be a new ball battle and will set the tone for the rest of the match. If Rohit goes through Boult’s opening spell, the Kiwis could be in for some trouble.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Devon Conway
Although Devon Conway was in amazing form in the England series, making a memorable debut, he will have to face a world-class off-spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin in the ICC World Test Championship final. While facing him for the first time could be a challenge in itself, the fact that Conway will face him in the final could make it more challenging for the southpaw. However, from what we have seen of Conway he likes a bit of a challenge and would love to do well against somebody like Aswhin who boasts an enviable record against the left-handers. With enough international experience one has got to believe that it is Ashwin who has advantage at this stage.
Virat Kohli vs Kane Williamson
This is the battle of captaincy. They have shared the stage for so many years. While Kohli is the more aggressive one, Williamsom likes to keep it calm and cool. However, there will only be one winner and on the field the duo will be fierce competitors. While Willimason does not have the best of records in England, he loves playing against India and has scored mountains of runs. Similarly for Kohli, he hasn’t scored an international ton since 2019 but will the man cometh with the onset of perhaps India’s most important hour in history? Indian fans would hope that the answer to that question is in affirmative.