New Zealand Is A Big Hurdle To Cross In WTC Final, Says Sanjay Manjrekar
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New Zealand Is A Big Hurdle To Cross In WTC Final, Says Sanjay Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar, former India cricketer-turned-commentator has favoured New Zealand over India purely on the basis of conditions that are on offer at the venue of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, Southampton.

In his column for Hindustan Times, Sanjay Manjrekar further wrote that the key to doing well in England is to play close to the body and leave the balls which are pitched outside off stump. India will take on New Zealand in the final of the WTC (World Test Championship) in June.

File image of Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics
File image of Sanjay Manjrekar | Sportzpics

Sanjay Manjrekar on WTC final between India and New Zealand.

India and New Zealand qualified for the WTC final after finishing as the top-two teams in the inaugural edition which started after the ICC World Cup in August 2019. India won 12 out of the 17 Tests they played during this time period while New Zealand registered 7 victories out of 11.

“If the World Test Championship final is held in India, New Zealand would be sent packing by the hosts inside three days, but that it’s going to be played in England, and that too in the first half of the English summer, makes NZ a much bigger hurdle for India to cross to win the WTC,” Sanjay Manjrekar wrote.

Virat Kohli congratulates Kane Williamson Getty Images
New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson (L) hugs India’s captain Virat Kohli. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

“When in England, all the old gospels of batting resurface—play close to the body, leave that ball outside off, etc. Cricketing conditions in England are similar to those in NZ. Even if Australia is a neighboring country, pitches in NZ are nothing like in Australia, where the ball does not swing and seam much and there is just pace and bounce, ” Sanjay Manjrekar said.

“To India’s credit, their batsmen have become pretty good of late at handling pace and bounce and hence the improving record in Australia. But NZ, well, that’s India’s real ‘discomfort zone’ as was evident in how India lost the last Test series there. The highest score India could get in the three Tests was 242. To be fair, NZ themselves struggled but they were a little better than India in batting and a great distance better in bowling,” Sanjay Manjrekar added.

Kane Williamson will be leading New Zealand. The selectors handed a maiden call-up to Indian-origin Rachin Ravindra. Trent Boult is confirmed to miss the opening Test against England. He is likely to feature in the 2nd England Test and the WTC final.

India registered their first series loss in the World Test Championship after being whitewashed by New Zealand in the two-match series. The visiting Indian side was outplayed in every department.

In the first Test, India registered scores of 191 and 165, as their bowlers failed to do the damage on a pitch that suited them the most, allowing New Zealand to clinch a thumping 10-wicket victory.

In the 2nd Test, India scored 242 runs on board in their first essay and bundled New Zealand out for 235 runs. But the visitors were bundled out for 124 runs in 2nd innings, setting New Zealand a target of 132 runs, which was chased down with seven wickets to spare.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Virat Kohli And Rishabh Pant Are Game-changers

He picked Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant as India’s ‘game changers’ with the bat. While Virat Kohli is one of the finest Indian batsmen, Rishabh Pant’s resurgence at No. 5 contributed to India’s comeback wins in Australia and against England at home.

” Virat will be India’s game-changer with the bat. Tests just seem to get the best out of him, so there is no reason to expect anything different. Virat too does not enjoy the slow, seaming conditions of the NZ kind but he knows England would be a better version of what he encountered a year ago in NZ,” Sanjay Manjrekar said.

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

“Game changer No. 2 with the bat will be Rishabh Pant. The number that he bats at if NZ thinks they are through with the Indian batting after picking the top 5 they would have made the biggest mistake that could cost them the game,” Sanjay Manjrekar added.

Virat Kohli-led India will face New Zealand in the finale of the World Test Championship (WTC), which begins on May 18 in Southampton. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced a strong 20-man squad for the encounter, apart from four reserves.

After facing New Zealand, India will then play 5 Tests against hosts England between August 4 and September 14 in Nottingham, London, Leeds, and Manchester.

India Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha(subject to fitness)

India’s Standby players: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna(Subject To Fitness), Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryll Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.