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World Test Championship Final: From Rishabh Pant to Jasprit Bumrah, five players key to India’s chances

·5-min read

An ICC trophy has eluded Virat Kohli as India skipper, but his wait could finally be over if they manage to outplay New Zealand in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship at Rose Bowl in Southampton.

The final starts on 18 June, and while New Zealand, who beat England 1-0 in the two-Test series recently, have had match practice and time to adapt to English conditions, India's last Test came back in March when they trounced England 3-1 at home.

But despite not playing competitive Test cricket in three months, the Indian team were involved in an intra-squad match, where Rishabh Pant slammed a century and Shubman Gill scored 85.

India's most memorable series win came in the Australia earlier this year when promising players like Mohammad Siraj and T Natarajan impressed in the absence of injury-marred stars that included Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. India eventually won that series 2-1.

Here, we take a look at five India players who could make an impact in the final:

Rishabh Pant

The flamboyant Rishabh Pant has had a few career-defining moments over the past months, but more importantly he has retained the faith in the Indian selectors to become a permanent figure in the team's playing XI for the longest format.

Rishabh Pant has seemingly cemented his place in the Test XI ahead of Wriddhiman Saha. Sportzpics
Rishabh Pant has seemingly cemented his place in the Test XI ahead of Wriddhiman Saha. Sportzpics

Rishabh Pant has seemingly cemented his place in the Test XI ahead of Wriddhiman Saha. Sportzpics

Ever since replacing an injured Wriddhiman Saha during India's tour of Australia in December 2020, Pant has established himself in the middle-order and also became a reliable wicketkeeper, making him an X factor within the side.

Pant has the ability to swing the momentum in India's favour and perform under pressure. He showed his prowess against Australia and backed it up with solid performances versus England earlier this year.

And since that breakthrough tour Down Under, Pant has amassed four centuries.

India may not have played a competitive Test for sometime, but Pant once again showed glimpses of what he could produce with a fine century during an intra-squad simulation game.

Ravindra Jadeja

Depth in both batting and bowling is what Ravindra Jadeja offers and India will hope to make that count. Jadeja was in a decent form with the ball in Tests before he sustained a thumb injury during the Sydney Test, and eventually missed the England series at home.

Post rehabilitation at Bengaluru's National Cricket Academy (NCA), Jadeja returned to action in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

Tests seem to be Jadeja's favourite format, and he will be raring to go and help India claim the big prize. While he may have just scored 236 runs from six Tests against New Zealand, his bowling record against the Kiwis has been impressive, with best figures of 5/73, and 19 wickets to his name.

Rohit Sharma

It's a surprise to nobody that 'Hitman' Rohit Sharma is a reliable opener irrespective of the team he plays for. And over the years, Rohit has proved himself in the longest format.

Rohit was asked to open for the first time in Tests in 2019 against South Africa in Vishakhapatnam, and he went on to register scores of 176 and 127 in both the innings.

That was followed by a knock of 212 against the same opponents two Tests later in Ranchi. Although he did impress during the Australia tour last year by getting off to brilliant starts, he was unable to convert fifties into hundreds on two of those occasions (One in Brisbane and the other in Sydney). In fact, a Test century on overseas soil has eluded him.

Rohit has only played one Test in England before (in Southampton in 2014), but if he can give good starts to Team India in the final against New Zealand, it will be a massive boost for Virat Kohli and Co in their attempt to lift the trophy.

Jasprit Bumrah

The lethal Jasprit Bumrah is always a threat, thanks to his fiery pace and consistent seam movement, along with deadly yorkers.

Bumrah may still be in his early days as a Test cricket bowler, but his overall record speaks volumes. He's taken 83 wickets off just 19 matches since his Test debut against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2018. His best figures of 6/27 came against West Indies away in 2019. In that innings, he even took a hat-trick.

With the wicket at Southampton's Rose Bowl favouring pacers, Bumrah will be vital to India's chances in the final.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Needless to say, R Ashwin has been the most consistent bowler in the Indian Test setup over the years. Ashwin was the highest wicket-taker during the four-match Test series when England visited India in February with 32 wickets at an average of just 14.72, and three five-fors.

Ashwin's duel with Kane Williamson will be interesting as the Indian spinner has dismissed Black Caps' skipper four times in five innings, while he has taken Ross Taylor's wicket thrice.

In just the seven Tests he has played against New Zealand, Ashwin has taken 48 wickets with best figures of 7/59 (in 2016).

While Ravindra Jadeja's all-round depth would make him an obvious choice in the playing XI, R Ashwin's experience and his well-rounded knowledge of the opponents will help India if the team management decides to play two spinners and three seamers.

Also See: World Test Championship final: Virender Sehwag says he's looking forward to Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult battle

ICC World Test Championship Final: Winners to receive prize money of $1.6 million along with mace

World Test Championship Final: Virat Kohli vs Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson vs Rishabh Pant and other player battles to watch out for

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