ANNIHILATION. MASSACRE. SLAUGHTER. These are words that would aptly describe the thrashing that the Indian side dished out to England in the 4th Test. In what was a totally one-sided contest, Virat Kohli and his men pummeled Joe Root and Co. by an innings and 25 runs in the 4th Test to win the Test series 3-1.
And with this victory, the Indian side has also booked its ticket to England to take on New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). Virat Kohli will be extremely proud of the way his boys have bounced back after they were thrashed by 227 runs in the first Test at Chennai.
Now, Kane Williamson’s Black Caps stand between India and the World Test Championship (WTC) title, and the Indian side would need to get their best side on the park if they have to beat the Kiwis. On that note, let us take a look at –
India’s playing XI in the World Test Championship (WTC) final
1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma gave excellent starts for India at the top of the order and emerged as the leading run scorer for the hosts in the Test series against England. The ‘Hitman’ scored 345 runs in the four match Test series and scored his runs at an average of 57.50.
In fact, it was Sharma’s scintillating 161 in the first innings of the second Test at Chennai that allowed the Indian side to bounce back and crush England by 317 runs in the second rubber. Rohit also contributed a handsome 66 in the first innings of the Pink ball Test, and finished the series by scoring a sedate 49 in the final Test.
Needless to say, Rohit’s fortunes with the bat will play a crucial role when India and New Zealand lock horns in England in the summit clash of the World Test Championship (WTC).
2. Shubman Gill
The man who will partner Rohit Sharma at the top of the order for the Indian side would be Shubman Gill. Even though Gill did not have a very fruitful series with the willow against England, he is still an asset for the side. In the 4 Tests that he played against the England side, the 21-year-old could score only 119 runs at an average of 19.83.
But still, these are early days in Gill’s career and the right hander has loads of talent. And, if we want any proof for it, then all we need to do is rewind our memories to India’s tour of Australia in 2020-21, where the youngster scored 259 runs at an impressive average of 51.80 in the land of the kangaroos. Also, his blistering 91 at The Gabba in the 4th Test helped the Indian side to win a historic series against Australia in their own backyard.
Even though the conditions in England would be challenging, we can expect Gill to rise to the occasion in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
There is no reason to justify why this man will occupy the No.3 slot. For almost a decade now, Cheteshwar Pujara has been a vital cog in the Indian batting line up. The right hander has an experience of 85 Test matches under his belt, and has scored 6244 runs in the whites at an average of 46.60.
However, Pujara did not have a very successful run in the Test series against England. In all the 4 Tests put together, Pujara could muster just 133 runs at an average of 22.17. But then, over the course of a decade, he has proven that he has the ability to bounce back after a lean patch.
Also, Pujara played a massive role in India’s Test series triumph over Australia in both Sydney and Brisbane. While in Sydney, he scored fifties in both the innings to help the Indian side draw the 3rd Test match, in Brisbane too, it was Pujara’s fighting 56 that helped the Indian side to beat the Aussies in the 4th rubber.
4.Virat Kohli (C)
He is a part of the modern day ‘Fab Four’ (the other three being Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith). He is the only Indian batsman to have plundered 7 double centuries in Test match cricket. Virat Kohli is a colossus with the willow, and the numbers that he has generated in the whites stand testimony to the same.
Kohli has already scored 7490 runs in 91 Test matches at an excellent average of 52.38. He has also scored 27 hundreds in white flannels. But then, Kohli endured a very poor run with the bat in the Test series against England. In the 6 innings that he played, the 32-year-old could score just 172 runs at an average of 28.67. He also bagged a couple of ducks as well.
But then, Kohli is a legend who has proven himself with the willow in every format of the game. He will be itching to go out and lead from the front with the willow when the Indian side takes on Kane Williamson’s men in England.
5. Ajinkya Rahane (VC)
Ajinkya Rahane did not have a successful series against the England side with the willow at home. The diminutive right hander could score just 112 runs in 6 innings in the Test series, and also scored his runs at an abysmal average of 18.67. Also, in 4 out of the 6 innings that he played in the series, India’s Test vice-captain could not even cross the 20-run mark as well.
But then, it would serve our memories well if we could rewind back to December 2020, when Rahane scored a classic 112 against Australia at Melbourne to help the Indian side bounce back after the ‘36’ debacle in the first Test at Adelaide and level the series.
And surely, after his ordinary returns in the series against Joe Root and his men at home, Rahane is due for a big score. And, the Indian side would be hoping that Rahane rises up to the occasion in the all-important World Test Championship (WTC) final.
6. Rishabh Pant (WK)
The biggest positive for the Indian side in the last 3 and half months has been Rishabh Pant’s form with the willow. The wicket keeper has had a sur real run with the bat, and has played a key role in India’s series wins against both Australia and England.
In the series against Australia, Pant scored 274 runs from 5 innings at an average of 68.50. The left hander’s counter attacking 97 against Australia at Sydney helped the Indian side to salvage a sensational draw. And, his 138 ball 89* in the 4th Test at The Gabba allowed India to beat the Australian side by 3 wickets and retain the Border Gavaskar trophy.
Even in the Test series against England, Pant scored 270 runs with the willow at an average of 54 and a strike rate of 84.11. While his 58* in the second Test at Chennai helped India to beat England by 317 runs, his whirlwind 101 in the 4th Test at Ahmedabad helped Virat Kohli’s men to wallop the visitors by an innings and 25 runs. Pant will don the wicketkeeping gloves in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
7. Ravindra Jadeja
In all the three disciplines of the game, Ravindra Jadeja is an asset. He is arguably the best fielder in the Indian side at the moment, and he is extremely handy with both bat and ball. With the red cherry in hand, the left-arm spinner has already taken 220 wickets, and has taken them at a miserly average of just 24.32.
With the bat too, he has scored 1954 runs, and has scored as many as 15 half centuries as well. In his last 8 Test innings, Jadeja has scored 4 half centuries. Jadeja’s stint in Australia was cut short after he suffered a dislocation to his left thumb. The injury was serious enough for him to miss the 4th Test against the kangaroos at Brisbane as well as the entire home series against England as well.
However, by the time India play the summit clash of the World Test Championship (WTC), Jadeja will be fully fit and will return back to the side. The all-rounder will be waiting to get on the field and contribute for his country in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Ravichandran Ashwin is the greatest spin bowler of the modern era. The Tamil Nadu bowler has already breached the 400-wicket mark, and is the second fastest bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan to take 400 wickets in the whites.
And, Ashwin has had a dream start to 2021. In the 5 Test matches that he has played this year, the off spinner has already taken 34 wickets at an average of just 18.82. With the bat too, Ashwin has contributed to the side this year. He consumed 128 balls to score an unbeaten 39 against Australia in Sydney and helped India secure a fighting draw. And, in the second Test against England at Chennai, the right hander scored a sensational 148 ball 106 to help India thrash England by 317 runs.
Ashwin will be gearing up to spin a web around the New Zealand batsmen in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). And, he will also be looking to contribute with the willow as well, if the need arises.
9. Ishant Sharma
Apart from Ishant Sharma, only one more fast bowler has featured in more than 100 Test matches for India. And, he retired more than 27 years ago. Since the retirement of the legendary Kapil Dev, no Indian pacer apart from Ishant has managed to breach the magic mark of 100 Test matches. This speaks volumes about the passion and the ability that Sharma has.
The 32-year-old is the 6th highest wicket taker for India in Test cricket, and has picked up 303 wickets at an average of 32.27. Also, with his height, Sharma can get extra bounce off the deck. He can also make the new ball move prodigiously both ways, and can cause a lot of trouble to the batsmen in seaming conditions in England.
With truckloads of experience under his belt, Ishant will spearhead India’s charge in the World Test Championship (WTC) final with the red cherry in hand.
10. Jasprit Bumrah
His unconventional action can unsettle even the best batsmen in the world. In his short Test career that has lasted just 19 Test matches, Jasprit Bumrah has already taken 83 wickets at an average of 22.11. He has also taken five 5 wicket hauls in white flannels as well.
The right arm pacer did not have the best returns in the Test series against England at home. In the 2 Test matches that he played, Bumrah picked up just 4 wickets, and his strike rate too, was 72.00.
But, one look at Bumrah’s performances in England will help us understand how valuable he is in English conditions. In the 3 Tests that he has played on England soil, Bumrah has scalped 14 wickets, and has taken them at an average of 25.93. With the ball nipping around in England, Bumrah will definitely make life uncomfortable for the Black Caps in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).
11. Mohammed Shami
The final name that makes the list is Mohammed Shami. The right arm pacer is a veteran with an experience of 50 Test matches under his belt. Shami has already picked up 180 wickets in his Test career, and has picked them at a good average of 27.59. The 30-year-old has been in excellent form with the ball in the last 3 years (excluding 2021 where he has not played a single match).
In the last 3 years alone, Shami has scalped a whopping 85 wickets in Test cricket. He has also picked up 3 five wicket hauls in the last 3 years as well. Even though he could not feature even in a single Test match that the Indian side has played in 2021, Shami is on his path to recovery, and even posted a video on Instagram as well.
Shami will be looking to run in at full throttle and dismantle the Kiwi batting line up when the two sides lock horns in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
Note: All the stats have been taken from Howstat cricket, Cricbuzz and Cricinfo and have been updated as on 7th March 2021
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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