The World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand is closer than ever, with the excitement levels rising every passing day. While New Zealand have more or less zeroed in on their playing combination for the WTC final, the Indian team will be contemplating whether or not to play both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
It is worth noting that they have used both of them together only four times before in Tests away from the subcontinent since 2014. However, given the form and experience of the duo, the team management might genuinely consider playing both in the WTC final.
WTC Final: Three Reasons why India should play the Ashwin-Jadeja duo
#3. New Zealand’s woes against quality spinners
The quartet of Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and BJ Watling have a combined experience of over 300 Test matches for New Zealand. However, their record against spin bowling is a cause for worry for the Black Caps ahead of the WTC final.
Kane Williamson has been dismissed 17 times each to off-spin and left-arm spin in his Test career so far. The New Zealand captain has been a victim of Ashwin five times in nine innings, the most against any spinner in world cricket.
Ross Taylor, on the other hand, has been out to spin bowlers 54 times in his 107-match Test career with left-arm spinners accounting for 24 of those dismissals. Tom Latham and BJ Watling are behind the duo with 25 and 31 dismissals respectively against spinners. These numbers are a genuine source of concern for the Kiwis heading into the WTC final.
Considering the quartet are the fulcrum of the New Zealand batting unit, India will be able to exploit their weaknesses if they play both Ashwin and Jadeja in the summit clash.
#2. The Ashwin-Jadeja alliance
Ashwin and Jadeja have been a dominant bowling pair in Test cricket over the last few years. The pair have over 600 wickets together in Tests and are a major threat to the opposition on wickets that provide any semblance of assistance.
Ashwin has been in rampant form this year with 34 wickets in just 5 Test matches at an average of 18.82. The Tamil Nadu off-spinner has an excellent record against the Kiwis with 48 wickets across 10 Tests, accounting for a wicket every 33 balls.
Jadeja's recent record suggests he would be the ideal foil for Ashwin. The 32-year-old has scalped 28 wickets from 10 games in the first iteration of the WTC. Both of their records suggest that the duo could cause serious damage to the Kiwis in the WTC final.
#1. Batting depth
In addition to their stellar record with the ball, Ashwin and Jadeja also play a pivotal role in providing stability and depth to the batting unit. The duo’s batting prowess has allowed the team management to play five frontline bowlers in Test. This has been a formula that has helped India to many famous victories over the last three years. Testing the same strategy again in the WTC final might pay rich dividends.
Ashwin’s sublime batting form this year augurs well for the Indian team ahead of the WTC final. The 34-year-old has notched up 238 runs in 5 matches at a healthy average of 34 in 2021. His match-saving innings of 39 in Sydney and his century against England in Chennai are testaments to his fantastic batting ability.
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja has a fantastic record against the Black Caps in his Test career. He has scored at an average of 47 against New Zealand.
The spin twins will hope to weave their magic with the bat as well to help India script a historic win in the WTC final.
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