India Can't Take New Zealand Lightly In WTC Final, Says Gundappa Viswanath
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India Can’t Take New Zealand Lightly In WTC Final, Says Gundappa Viswanath

India vs New Zealand
India vs New Zealand

Gundappa Viswanath, a former Indian batting legend lauded India’s current form but warned them against complacency. Virat Kohli and his men are eyeing a third straight big Test trophy.

After pulling off a huge Test series win vs Australia Down Under and registering a 3-1 win vs England at home the Indian team is one win away from winning the inaugural World Test Championship. India will take on New Zealand in the WTC final at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on June 18.

Gundappa Viswanath
Gundappa Viswanath File picture

Gundappa Viswanath: India Can’t Take New Zealand Lightly

It’s difficult to pick a favourite between these two teams. India is ranked number one in the ICC Test rankings, while the Kiwis are ranked number two. The two teams are already in England.

New Zealand is currently playing a two-match Test series against England. The first match ended in a draw. India meanwhile reached Southampton on June 3, after serving a quarantine period of almost 10 days in India.

“Both the teams will be playing at a neutral venue. It will be a good contest. New Zealand are a good side. India can’t take them lightly. The atmosphere will be different,” Viswanath told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.

Gundappa Viswanath, Indian cricketer
Gundappa Viswanath, Indian cricketer (Photo Credits: Facebook)

“India has an edge over New Zealand. It will be an exciting clash. Winning in Australia and vs England will be a confidence booster for India in the WTC final,” Gundappa Viswanath, who played 91 Tests and 25 ODIs for India between 1969 and 1983, further told TimesofIndia.com.

There is a huge buzz around for the WTC final with many experts of the cricket fraternity comparing the match to a World Cup final. The mouth-watering clash between India and New Zealand has been given a reserve 6th day, to protect the match against bad weather.

Gundappa Viswanath Feels The WTC Final Will Be A Battle Between Indian Bowlers And Kiwi Batsmen

Interestingly, Gundappa Viswanath feels the key contest will be between the India bowlers and New Zealand batsmen. India last played a Test match against England in March this year winning the 4 Test series 3-1. Their last away tour was to Australia in 2020/21, where they staged a remarkable comeback to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after an embarrassing defeat in the 1st Adelaide Test.

“It will be India bowlers vs the New Zealand batsmen in the WTC final. India’s bowling is super strong right now. Look at Shami, Bumrah, Siraj and Ishant. They all are in good touch. Siraj did a wonderful job in Australia. I am sure he will do the job for Virat in the WTC final too,” Gundappa Viswanath signed off.

Indian players Ishant Sharma, left, Ravichandran Ashwin, center, and Mohammed Shami
Indian players. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Virat Kohli-led India’s batsmen haven’t quite proved themselves yet against the swinging ball and their techniques were exposed on the New Zealand tour in 2020. Meanwhile, the Kiwi pace attack of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, and Neil Wagner has time and again displayed its ability to extract any purchase from the pitch and would be raring to do the same at Southampton.

If there are no injury concerns, the Indian pace troika that is expected to be in the playing XI for the clash starting June 18 would be Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammed Shami. India has not preferred playing Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja together in an overseas Test.

In England, they have done it only once in 2014 at Manchester without much success. But this time, things might be different. Ravichandran Ashwin has 409 scalps in 78 Tests and Ravindra Jadeja has 220 scalps in 51 Tests.

Henry Nicholls’ sequence of scores in the last three Tests is 174 (vs West Indies), 56, 11, and 157 (vs Pakistan) while Ross Taylor have to find his form back as in 2021, the right-hand batsman has just managed to score 59 runs at an average of 19.7, which is way lower than his career average of 45.6. The 35-year-old BJ Watling will aim to finish his 12-year cricket career on a high.

However, he is going through a rough patch as in three innings in 2021 he has scored 23 runs while in 2020 he could only score 150 runs in seven innings.