Kamran Akmal, Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman feels India got their combination for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand wrong by playing 2 spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin together and paid a heavy price for that.
Kamran Akmal stressed 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.
Kamran Akmal: One Should Never Play 2 Spinners On Seaming Pitches
India was bowled out for 217 in the first innings of the WTC final and crumbled to 170 in their second essay. Thus, in spite of the fact that two full days of play were lost to rain, New Zealand trounced India by eight wickets on the Reserve 6th Day.
Kamran Akmal said on the YouTube channel ‘My Master Cricket Coach’ that India erred in not picking a playing XI based on the conditions unlike New Zealand while discussing where Team India went wrong in the WTC final.
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.”
Akmal continued: “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.”
Ravindra Jadeja had an off Test as he scored 15 off 53 balls before dismissed by Trent Boult in the first innings. When it came to bowling, the all-rounder returned figures of 1/20 in 7.2 overs. In the second innings, he could only score 16 off 49 deliveries and only bowled eight of the 45 overs in the second innings, going wicketless and conceding 25 runs.
Unlike India, New Zealand went into this big match with four quicks, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, and Colin de Grandhomme as their pace bowling all-rounder at no. 7.
Kamran Akmal: New Zealand Had An Advantage Since They Had Played England Prior To The Final
Kamran Akmal, however, backed Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s views that the marquee WTC final should be a best-of-three affair. He further suggested that the summit clash should be played at a venue where neither finalist has an undue 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.”
While Kamran Akmal backed the decision to give the India players a break ahead of the gruelling 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 needs to get used to seaming conditions in England.
“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.”
India is supposed to 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 any of the county sides, owing to COVID-19 protocols as the England board is unwilling to change its stance.