Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal feels Team India got their combination for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand wrong and paid a heavy price for that. Akmal pointed out that Team India’s batting had been underwhelming in the run-up to the WTC final. So they ought to have strengthened that department given the seaming conditions that were on offer.
Team India were bowled out for 217 in the first innings of the WTC final and crumbled to 170 in their second essay. Thus, in spite of two full days of play lost to rain, New Zealand trounced India by eight wickets on the Reserve Day.
Discussing where Team India went wrong in the WTC final, Akmal said on the YouTube channel ‘My Master Cricket Coach’ that India erred in not picking a playing XI based on the conditions. He explained:
“The one big danger for Team India in the WTC final was New Zealand’s bowling. India’s batsmen have not scored big runs, starting with the Australia series. Ajinkya Rahane scored a hundred (in the MCG Test), and then Rishabh Pant came in and scored important runs down the order. In the home series (against England) as well, only Pant and (Ravichandran) Ashwin scored some runs.”
“If we look at India’s playing XI for the WTC, you should never play two spinners on seaming pitches. New Zealand chose the perfect playing XI according to the overcast conditions. They won even after the entire first day’s play was lost to rain. India should have strengthened their batting. As it is, their batsmen weren’t among the runs. Virat Kohli was not in form; the opening partnership was not working well. India should have analysed all these issues before finalising their playing XI. They played the same combination of two spinners, which they had in Australia and at home, a move that backfired."
Akmal, however, backed Virat Kohli’s views that the WTC final should be a best-of-three affair. Akmal further suggested that the summit clash should be played at a venue where neither finalist has an advantage. He elaborated in this regard:
“New Zealand had an advantage, as they had already played two Tests in England. They were used to the conditions.”
Team India should have taken a shorter break and played more practice games: Kamran Akmal
While Akmal backed the decision to give Team India players a break ahead of the England Tests, he opined that the side could have shortened their three-week break and played some practice games against a few counties. According to the Pakistan player, India need to get used to seaming conditions in England, saying:
“Team India players deserve a break. They played in the IPL and here in the WTC final. They have been under constant mental stress due to the quarantine. So this break should help to refresh them ahead of the England series. India have a good chance of winning in England, but that will depend on how they play seam-bowling. England will prepare pitches to exploit India’s weakness. So India could have cut short their three-week holiday and instead could have played practice games against some counties to get used to the conditions. Still, I feel India have a great chance to win in England this time.”
Team India will play two intra-squad matches in Durham ahead of the five-match Test series against England. They are unlikely to play any warm-up games against county sides, owing to COVID-19 protocols.