India and New Zealand are set to lock horns for the inaugural World Test Championship at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground in Southampton from June 18 to June 22.
India reached the WTC finals after overwhelming Joe Root-led England 3-1 in the February Test series at home.
Meanwhile, New Zealand confirmed their spot after whitewashing a depleted Pakistan team at home.
While the Indian fans are eager to see Virat Kohli’s men give their all in June, they must remember that the English pitches haven’t always got them top results in the recent past.
Apart from the Indian skipper, the rest of the team will have to play out of their skin in England, especially when a green wicket is in play.
This is primarily because Indian batsmen grow up playing the game on turning tracks at home that help them tackle the spinners. But the big pictures changes completely when such players are asked to perform on seaming green pitches.
Such tracks will help the New Zealand pace cartel seam and swing the ball both ways.
Moreover, India has been winless on the Southampton track.
They played and lost both the games and this could jinx them if they aren’t mentally strong.
On the flip side, the Kiwis will feel more at home.
They are better performers than India on green wickets and are likely to live up to their reputation in June.
Arguably, batsman extraordinaire, Rohit Sharma, is the most dependable batsmen in the Indian squad after Kohli.
He averages 40 against the Kiwis in Tests, but his inconsistency overseas doesn’t pose him as a major threat for Williamson and co.
Hence, the Kiwis have an edge over the Indians and could lift the trophy in June.
How India can exploit a green wicket
The odds favour the Kiwis, but the only way Kohli’s men can shock the New Zealand side is by getting their pace combo right.
Team Indian should bank on Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah to bounce the Kiwis out.
They are India’s finest bowlers at the moment who can trouble the strong batting lineup in New Zealand.
Siraj has changed his bowling drastically ever since he debuted in Australia.
The right-arm pacer has been economical and taking more scalps than usual after the foreign tour.
Even in the 2021 Indian Premier League, Siraj led the pace attack from the front. His combo with Bumrah and Shami can do the trick for the Men in Blue.
Players to look out for
Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara are India’s backbone in Tests and sending them back to the hut will be an uphill task for the Kiwis.
Both batters adopt the “watch early, play late” technique to tackle a seaming wicket.
Similarly, Kane Williamson, who was the top scorer in the Pakistan series, is likely to cream the ball all over the park against Indian bowlers.
His calm demeanour has helped the New Zealand cricket team, umpteen times, including helping them reach the World Cup finals in 2019.