Virat Kohli-led India takes on New Zealand in the all-important World Test Championship final at Southampton from June 18.
India and New Zealand will square off in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final on Friday, June 18. Led by Kane Williamson, the Kiwis were the first to qualify for the finale and with a historic series win against England, they will surely fancy their chances in Southampton.
Virat Kohli, India’s most successful captain in Test cricket with 36 wins out of 60 Tests, will be aiming for his first ICC title.
Apart from being the leaders of their respective national sides, Kohli and Williamson are arguably two of the best batsmen in the world at present.
Kohli and Williamson had first crossed paths as captains when they led India and New Zealand in the semi-final of the 2008 U-19 World Cup. The Indian captain had come out on top and even picked up the wicket of his counterpart in the semi-final.
A lot has changed since then but the wheels of time have once again pitted the two against each other. With just days left for the much-awaited WTC final, three of the best minds in cricket- Former India batsman VVS Laxman, former West Indies pacer Ian Bishop, and New Zealand pace spearhead Shane Bond shared their thoughts on the historic event in a virtual press conference organized by official broadcasters’ Star Sports.
Comparing the captaincy styles of Kohli and Williamson, Bond said, “Both have distinct styles of captaincy. Williamson is a conservative captain, relatively conservative in his selection.”
“He is reasonably conservative on the field as well. If you take a look at the selection of Mitchell Santer in the first Test against England. He is someone Kane knows well. He likes to stick to players he trusts and knows well and that is why New Zealand will go in with five seamers,” he observed.
“Virat on the other hand is aggressive, wears his heart on his sleeve gets onto people’s faces. You know excatly how he is feeling on the field with the reaction. So two different personalities,” Bond explained.
If we take a look at their batting records as a skipper in winning matches, Kohli has scored 3328 runs in 36 Tests at an average of 61.62. 11 of his 20 Test hundreds as captain have come in winning causes.
As for Williamson, he has smashed 2210 runs in 21 Tests that the Kiwis have under his regime. Eight of his 11 centuries as captain have come in matches that New Zealand have won.
As a senior international cricketer, both the captains will be chasing his first ICC title. Ian Bishop explained why Kohli will want it badly.
“It will be huge for Virat Kohli, he has led from the front along with Kane who is his opposite number. With the pandemic and suffering back in India, if there was a time to win it for your country, it is now and Kohli will want it badly,” said Ian Bishop.
“While it will be evenly matched, there is no doubt about that contest, because New Zealand have got an advantage of already playing England in these conditions but I think India can take a leaf out of what New Zealand have done,” added Laxman.
Laxman also felt that India start as “favourite” in the marquee clash due to the depth, experience and talent they have in the squad.
“I feel that India start as favourites, the reason being if there is one team over the past two years of this cycle of World Test Championship, who are being consistent, who have won both at home and overseas, it is been India.
“Beating Australia in Australia in-spite of a humiliating defeat in the first Test and they lost captain (Virat Kohli), the main captain not being available for rest of the series, a lot of injuries to the senior players but still going on to beat Australia in that fashion and there is so much of depth, talent and experience in this Indian line-up, whether it is the batting department or bowling department,” he concluded.
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