The Blackcaps have been hit by a few minor injuries during their ongoing Test series against England, leading fans to question whether they are at a disadvantage ahead of the WTC final. India, on the other hand, have a vast contingent comprising of world-class players in all departments to choose from.
One such department is the pace battery, which features the exciting Mohammed Siraj. The 27-year-old is a favorite of captain Virat Kohli, who appears to be finding a way to fit the pacer in the playing XI for the all-important WTC summit clash.
However, it might not be in India's best interests to field Siraj in the WTC final. Here are three reasons why.
#3 India might want experience in the all-important WTC final
Mohammed Siraj has been in and around the Indian setup for a few years now, but he got his Test cap only during the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy. While he is a quality bowler, he has a meager five Tests under his belt.
Siraj bowled well in Australia and subsequently was selected in India's playing XI for two of the home Tests against England. However, he bowled only 26 overs over the course of those two Tests, with spin-friendly conditions on offer in Chennai and Ahmedabad.
In a game as important as the WTC final, India might want a more experienced campaigner like Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav. Both veteran pacers have played against New Zealand before and were part of the touring party to the Trans-Tasman nation last year - two key factors Siraj doesn't have going for him ahead of the WTC final.
#2 Mohammed Siraj will have little to no familiarity with the Dukes ball
As a consequence of having played Tests only in Australia and India, Mohammed Siraj has never bowled with the Dukes ball in the longest format of the game. The pacer has never played in England, where the ball is used for international cricket, and only has experience with the SG and Kookaburra balls.
While this may not seem like a big factor on paper since Siraj is known to generate swing and would've had some practice in the nets with the Dukes ball, it might turn out to be a game-changer. Even a wayward spell or two in the initial stages of the innings could hand New Zealand the advantage.
Moreover, Ishant and the other Indian pacers in contention have played in England before and achieved great success. In fact, the lanky Delhi-born fast bowler has even played in the County Championship, where a stint under the watchful eye of Jason Gillespie turned his Test career on its head.
#1 Ishant Sharma, or any other pacer, doesn't deserve to be dropped for the WTC final
This might be the most telling element in Mohammed Siraj not deserving a place in India's playing XI for the WTC final against New Zealand.
Ishant Sharma, who recently played his 100th Test for India, has been incredible in the format. He played all four Tests of the recent home series against England, scalping six wickets across a paltry number of overs. And in his previous away Test, incidentally against the Blackcaps, he took a five-wicket haul in the first innings.
Umesh is another bowler who's been exceptional for the most part in Test cricket. Even in conditions that haven't offered much help, he's got the ball to reverse and bowled unplayable deliveries in almost every spell. And needless to say, it would be criminal to drop either Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Shami.
Mohammed Siraj is a world-class bowler, and India are lucky to have him competing for a place in the playing XI for the WTC final. But perhaps he shouldn't take to the field in Southampton on June 18.