Team India’s seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has admitted that they expect to face a tough challenge from a professional New Zealand outfit in the World Test Championship (WTC) final. Ashwin also conceded that the Black Caps will go in with the advantage, having played two Tests against England ahead of the WTC final.
While New Zealand are currently facing the Englishmen in Edgbaston, in the second Test of the two-match series, India have begun their practice for the WTC final after a period of isolation.
In an interview uploaded on BCCI’s official website, Ashwin admitted that they will have to adapt quickly to stand a good chance of winning the WTC final. He stated:
“I expect a very well-planned and a well-knit New Zealand team to come at us. Having played two Tests, they will definitely come in with an advantage, so we have to adapt quickly.”
Ashwin added that he is pleased with the WTC, and hopes it continues as it gives some added context to Test cricket. He said:
“It is really exciting, in all these years we have never played a team at a neutral venue in Test cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate format of the sport that we have. It is the greatest test of a cricketer’s ability, mental strength and everything. For a long time, cricketers wanted this kind of space, with some context to Test cricket. Looking forward to the final.”
According to Ashwin, the conditions will be the king in England and the condition of the ball will also have a major role to play. He explained:
“I sometimes funnily say this - You don’t need to cover the ground or the pitch in England, you need to cover the clouds. The condition of the ball and the situation of the game matters a lot. One aspect that stands out is the understanding of Test cricket that the crowds bring here.”
Important to maintain the ball properly in WTC final: Ishant Sharma
According to senior India pacer Ishant Sharma, maintaining the ball will be crucial to India’s chances in the WTC final. Ishant stated that adjusting to the conditions will be another challenge. He said:
“Somebody needs to take that responsibility to maintain that ball and shine. If the ball is maintained properly in these conditions, it will be easier for the fast bowler to take wickets. When we play in India, reverse swing comes into play after the new ball. Here, you need to keep your length up because the ball swings. It is not easy to adjust because the weather is also very cold.”
Fast bowler Mohammed Shami added that having experience in England conditions also counts for a lot. He opined that India must give their 110 percent in the WTC final, as they have worked really hard for two years to get here. Shami stated:
"Experience always counts in Test cricket. You know how the conditions work, even the cloud and the wind matters. It helps when you have already played there earlier. We have to give our 110 percent in the WTC final. This is the culmination of two years of hard work so we have to be completely focused.”
The WTC final between the two top-ranked Test sides - India and New Zealand - will be played in Southampton from June 18-22.