World Test Championship Final: It is time for the ultimate Test as India and New Zealand get ready to cross swords in the first-ever ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final scheduled to start from 18-22 June in Southampton. Both India and New Zealand have performed incredibly well in this 2019-21 WTC cycle and now one of them will be crowned as the inaugural World Test Champions.
The World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand is scheduled to begin from June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The IND vs NZ live score and streaming will be available on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar app. The first ball of the Test match will be bowled at 3 PM IST. According to the latest weather forecast in Southampton, there is rain expected on all five days of the Test match.
However, the ICC has also kept 23 June as the reserve day to accommodate the lost time of play during the first five days. But as per the playing conditions for the WTC Final released by the apex council, both India and New Zealand will be declared as the joint winners in case the Test match ends in a draw or tie.
The Virat Kohli-led India Test team has delivered some sensational performances in different conditions to qualify for the WTC Final. India started off in the 2019-21 cycle with amazing series win against West Indies and then went on to beat South Africa and Bangladesh at home. Incidentally, the only Test series India lost in this cycle was against New Zealand in January 2020. However, Team India came back strongly with a historic 2-1 Test series win in Australia even in the absence of their star players and then the Virat Kohli-led side also defeated England at home.
On the other hand, New Zealand registered superb Test series win against West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India at home before leveling a great series in Sri Lanka. However, the Kane Williamson-led Kiwi team ended up witnessing a disappointing Test series defeat in Australia which was their only series loss in this WTC cycle.
Ahead of the World Test Championship Final Date 2021, New Zealand have got the best of preparations as they have already played a two-match Test series against England. The Kiwi team registered a comprehensive 8-wicket win in the second Test match against England in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The two-match Test series has also helped the New Zealand players acclimatize well in the English conditions before the WTC Final.
On the other hand, the India Test contingent served a mandatory quarantine of 3-4 days in the on-site hotel at the Ageas Bowl and since then, they got to practice at the final venue itself. Virat Kohli & Co. also played an intra-squad match in order to prepare well for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
New Zealand were the first team to qualify for the World Test Championship final after the Kane Williamson-led side sealed a smashing 2-0 Test series win against Pakistan at home. Australia was very much in the race to qualify for the WTC Final but unfortunately, they lost the golden chance due to the being short on the over-rate count in the second Test match against India and the Tim Paine-led team also cancelled their Test series against South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019-21 World Test Championship date started off with the big Ashes series between England and Australia on 1 August, 2019. The cycle ends with the India vs New Zealand WTC Final set to be played at The Rose Bowl in Southampton from 18-22 June.
The ICC has already confirmed the playing conditions for the World Test Championship final date and venue.
Both India and New Zealand have already announced their respective 15-man squads for the world Test championship final encounter.
India squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.
There is still a big question mark regarding the availability of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and wicket-keeper batsman BJ Watling for the high-voltage IND vs NZ WTC final game.
Originally, the India vs New Zealand World Test Championship final was scheduled to take place at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground in London. However, due to the Covid-19 concerns and other logistical issues, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to shift the final to the Ageas Bowl stadium especially due to the presence of the on-site hotel attached with the ground. The ICC also announced that the winners of the WTC Final will receive prize money worth USD 1.6 million along with the Test Championship Mace while the runners-up will get $ 800, 000. In case of a draw or tie, the winning prize money will be divided equally amongst the two finalists.
While talking about the stats at the WTC Final venue, Southampton has the highest average runs per wicket (33.58) and the second-highest run-per-over (3.13) amongst the English Test venues that have hosted a minimum of five Test matches. Overall, the pacers average 32.45 at this ground while the spinners are not much far behind at 34.58. England off-spinner Moeen Ali has delivered match-winning performances with the ball during the Test series against India at the same venue in 2014 and 2018. A total of 123 first-class matches have been played in Southampton where 67 have been drawn and 56 matches have given a result. The team batting first have had the upper hand with 35 wins while 25 matches have been won by teams batting second.
India and New Zealand are all set to become a part of a historic cricketing moment as one of them will be crowned as the first-ever ICC World Test Champions. However, India captain Virat Kohli has stated that the WTC Final is just another Test match for him that has to be played. On the other hand, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has mentioned that it is a privilege for his team to play in the inaugural WTC Final. It will be really important for both the sides to perform with their best of abilities throughout the five days of the Test match in order to win the maiden WTC title.
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