WTC: At the Mother of all Finals, Team India ready for “one hell of an event”

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India and New Zealand will lock horns at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, beginning June 18

Our Bureau
Southampton

India skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday said that the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) will be the biggest event as the longest format of the game tests a player in each and every department.

India and New Zealand will lock horns in the finals of WTC at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, beginning June 18. Before that, New Zealand will also play a two-match Test series against England, which has begun today at Lord’s. “See it is the first time that you have a World Test Championship final. When you look at that and the magnitude of the game that is going to be played, I think this is the biggest, if not the biggest-ever. It is the toughest format of the game; it is a format that tests you. It has not happened over the three months; it has happened over two years where teams have played each other across the world and earned their right to play in the finals. It is one hell of an event,” said Ravi Shastri while answering an ANI query during a virtual press conference.

Answering the same question, Kohli said: “I agree. I think this holds a lot of value, especially this being the first of its kind. It is the toughest format as Ravi Bhai mentioned. We take a lot of pride in playing Test cricket and the way we have progressed as a side is an example of what Test cricket means to us. So, for all of us as a unit, this is like an accumulation of all the hard work of the last five-six years where we started to come up the ranks as a side and we are just happy to take the opportunity to play the finals.”

Shastri also opined that if the WTC has to be played in the future, then the ICC should look to have a three-match series in place for the finals.

“I think ideally in the long run, if they want to pursue this WTC, best of three finals would be ideal. But you have to finish it as early as possible, because of the FTP. One-off is a one-off. Guys have earned their stripes. When you start competing at the top, you have the ability to pull yourself out of tough situations,” said Shastri.

“This side has pulled itself out of big problems so I think the final is a great victory for the boys really,” he added.

When asked whether the upcoming UK tour is like the final frontier for Team India: “Test cricket, we have been number one for a few years, another transition is going within the team. I do not think this is the final frontier for the team. It is an ongoing process to keep the standard of Indian cricket high, transition phase is going on now so our job is to ensure that the passion remains within the next lot of players. We had no doubt in our minds that we will be the first team to feature in the WTC finals.”

Best-of-three finals would be ideal

Ravi Shastri on Wednesday said that going ahead, the International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.

“I think ideally in the long run, if they want to pursue this WTC, best of three finals would be ideal. But you have to finish it as early as possible, because of the FTP (Future Tours Programme). One-off is a one-off. Guys have earned their stripes. When you start competing at the top, you have the ability to pull yourself out of tough situations. This side has pulled itself out of big problems so I think the final is a great victory for the boys really,” said Shastri during a virtual press conference.

“There is no pressure on me, I am just fulfilling the responsibility which has been given to me. I am committed to taking Indian cricket ahead and I will be always like this till the game I play the game. There has never been pressure on me and there would be no pressure going ahead. As long as I am helping the teammates and they are helping each other, this is the only thing that matters. We want to enjoy the final,” he added.

The Indian Men’s team arrived in the UK on June 3, 2021, via a chartered flight with negative PCR Test. Prior to travelling, the party will have spent 14 days in a bio-secure environment in India during which regular testing will have taken place.

Upon landing, they will proceed directly to the on-site hotel at the Hampshire Bowl where they will be tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation. Players’ activity will be allowed in a gradually increasing manner after each round of negative testing, moving from exercise in isolation to small group and then larger squad activity, whilst always remaining within the bio-secure venue.

Kiwis’ biggest strength is to come up as a team

Team India’s next big challenge is the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in Southampton. And former India wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel believes the biggest strength of the Kane Williamson-led squad is their ability to rise to challenges as a team.

Speaking on Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected, Parthiv shared his views on what could be New Zealand’s biggest strength during the World Test Championship final.

“I think New Zealand’s biggest strength is to come up as a team in the game. I think, yes, all the teams have their superstars, but they (the Kiwis) know their limitations, they know if someone’s capable of scoring 40 or 50 in a limited time and get 100 per cent out of each player. “If you look at their names — no one would be scared of Kane Williamson alone, no one will be scared of Tom Latham alone or all their fast bowlers. Their ability to perform together. I think that’s so important; as far as New Zealand’s performance is concerned in ICC trophies,” he said.

While addressing a virtual press conference, New Zealand skipper Williamson said his team is looking forward to facing India in the WTC final. “I know the boys are really excited for the challenge and then the Test Championship final. The focus will be on one game at a time. I suppose having a different opposition, playing in a neutral country is an exciting prospect,” Williamson said during the virtual presser.

“It’s great, and like I mentioned, it’s nice always to get into the side after a break. There is a lot of excitement in the camp, and we know the challenge, like coming over here and playing against England in their own backyard,” he added.

Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation. Players’ activity will be allowed in a gradually increasing manner after each round of negative testing, moving from exercise in isolation to small group and then larger squad activity, whilst always remaining within the bio-secure venue.

Dushmantha Chameera

ICC ODI Rankings: Kohli holds onto second spot

Sri Lanka fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera and captain Kusal Perera have made considerable gains in the latest ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings weekly update.

Chameera and captain Perera have made considerable gains after starring in a 97-run victory over Bangladesh in the final match of their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League series. India captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma have held onto their second and third spots in the ODI Batsmen Rankings. Pacer Jasprit Bumrah has also maintained his fifth slot in the ODI Bowling Rankings.

Chameera’s career-best haul of five for 16, which won him the Player of the Match award, has also helped him advance 27 slots to a career-best 33rd position. The 29-year-old had started the series in 72nd position and moved up last week with a three-wicket haul in the second match.

Perera’s sixth ODI century has lifted him 13 places to 42nd place in the weekly update to the men’s rankings, which is carried out on Wednesdays. This is only one place shy of the left-handed batsman’s career-best ranking of 41st achieved in June 2016.

Dhananjaya de Silva is another Sri Lanka player to gain in the rankings, moving up 10 places to 85th after a knock of 55. He has also progressed two places to 79th among bowlers and is up seven places to 24th among all-rounders. Leg-spinner Wasindu Hasaranga has moved up nine places to a joint-51st position.

For Bangladesh, who won the series 2-1, Mahmudullah’s knock of 53 sees him advance two slots to 36th position while Mosaddek Hussain’s innings of 51 have lifted him 12 places to 113th in the rankings. Fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, who grabbed four for 46, has progressed 12 places to 88th position.

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