WTC Final, Reserve Day: It’s the final day of the ICC World Test Championship Final and the fate of it still hangs in balance. Both Virat Kohli’s Team India and Kane Williamson have shared the honours on three days of play. But as the Reserve Day kicks in, India begin on a backfoot having lost two early wickets with a lead of only 32 runs. But as India have proved time and again, they cannot be written off early.
With Virat Kohli at the crease and Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja yet to come, India can score quick runs and take the match to New Zealand. Furthermore, as the weather forecast is of a sunny day, two Indian spinners could come in handy as the rough patches on the Hampshire Bowl wicket are already visible.
From turning on T20 mode to bowling in roughs, InsideSport takes a look at things India must do to beat New Zealand and win WTC Final.
Turning the T20 mode on: After two days of washout and the rest of the days interrupted by rain and bad light, both teams are left with three days of play. In three days, they have to complete four innings to have a result. Hence, the Reserve Day will bring the beast out of both teams and Team India are just better at it. With Virat Kohli still at the crease and Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja yet to come to bat, India can score quick runs and challenge Kane Williamson’s men.
Surviving important first hour: The Dukes ball is still new and the morning session will provide the expected swings. Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson all are capable of extracting the swing and it’s up to Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to dominate that. Even Southee has called the first hour the most important one for the team. Some quick runs could also put the pressure back on New Zealand.
Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja: While Virat Kohli will be important, the key to India’s win will be Rishabh Pant. The flamboyant left-hander can take the fight to the opponent with unorthodox batting. He proved that in Australia when India needed over 300 runs to win on the final day at Perth. On Wednesday, if he gets going, Kane Williamson & Co will be on the backfoot.
Bowling in tandem: Three of India’s bowlers are hit the deck bowlers who are known to bowl disciplined spells for long hours without trying to move the ball or anything fancy. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are known for that. But all three will need to bring their best to get New Zealand out quickly. Furthermore, onus will also be on Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. The Southampton pitch is known to offer some turn on the final two days. With a full day of play on Tuesday, the wicket has further shown rough patches and both spinners will need to exploit that. Ashwin will be key to get the better of New Zealand’s left-handers who will look to play on the front foot to score quick runs.
Then there is Kane Williamson. Against the Kiwi captain, Indian bowlers struggled to break his resolve in the 1st innings. His slow-paced 49 off 177 balls kept New Zealand in the game. But not only he is a good batsman of pace, but he is also a great batsman of spin too. Hence, getting his wicket will be key.