New Zealand Have An Edge As There's No Substitute For Match Practice: Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
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New Zealand Have An Edge As There’s No Substitute For Match Practice: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir believes New Zealand will have a slight edge over India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton starting on Friday. India and New Zealand will lock horns for the inaugural WTC title at a neutral venue in what promises to be a cracker of a contest.

India played an intra-squad simulation match to prepare for the WTC final, but Gautam Gambhir believes there is no substitute for match practice.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Gautam Gambhir Puts New Zealand Ahead Of India

Gautam Gambhir put New Zealand ahead of India because of the two-Test matches they played against England before the WTC final. The Kane Williamson-led side took the two-match series 1-0 by winning the second Test at Birmingham by eight wickets.

“It is difficult to predict the favourites in the one-off final. But I feel New Zealand will have a slight advantage because they have played two Test matches in England, and most importantly, they have won it,” Gautam Gambhir told Aaj Tak on eSalaamCricket.

New Zealand's Tom Latham, left, holds the winners' trophy
New Zealand’s Tom Latham holds the winners’ trophy. (Photo | AP)

Indian cricketers, on the other hand, are coming from a long layoff as IPL 2021 was postponed after the first half due to Covid-19. Their last Test match was at home against England in the first week of March. The Virat Kohli-led side did play an intra-squad simulation match to prepare for the WTC final, but Gautam Gambhir believes there is no substitute for match practice.

“You can play as many intra-squad matches, but there is no substitute to match practice. As a result, New Zealand will be better prepared for the WTC final,” added Gambhir.

Tom Latham led the New Zealand team to a memorable 1-0 Test series triumph in the two-match series against hosts England, in the absence of injured Kane Williamson, which is their first in the UK since 1999.

Ishant Sharma(3/36) shone with the ball in the India intra-squad practice match in Southampton before the WTC final. Openers Shubman Gill (85 off 135 balls) and Rishabh Pant (121* off 94 balls) shone with the bat. Ravindra Jadeja scored an unbeaten 54 off 76 balls in India’s intra-squad practice match at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. With the ball, Mohammed Siraj impressed with figures of 2/22 on the third day of the four-day practice match.

Gautam Gambhir Believes Indian Bowlers Can Trouble Any Team At Any Surface

The former left-hander, however, sang praises of the Indian bowling attack, which he believes can take 20 wickets on any track. Also, the WTC title will be shared between India and New Zealand if the Test match ends in a draw or a tie, but Gautam Gambhir reckons both sides should go for a win.

“I have always believed that it is bowlers who win you the Test matches. To win a Test match, you need to take 20 wickets, and I think the current Indian bowling line-up can trouble any team at any surface. The depth in Indian bowling attack is immense,” feels Gambhir.

Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma are likely to lead India's bowling attack in England
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, and Ishant Sharma are likely to lead India’s bowling attack in England (Source: AP)

For over a decade Ishant Sharma has been the spearhead of India’s fast-bowling attack, producing a level of quality that will only be fully appreciated when he’s no longer around to lead the line.

The 32-year-old has already achieved the milestone of passing 300 Test wickets. He also has played his 100th Test for India, becoming only the second Indian quick to do so, following in the footsteps of the legendary Kapil Dev.