Team India announced the playing XI for the all-important World Test Championship 2021 against New Zealand on Wednesday. As expected, the team went with the best possible combination of three pacers — Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, and two spinner — R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
There were no surprises from the batting department as well. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill made the cut as openers, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Keeper Rishabh Pant was picked over Wriddhiman Saha.
The BCCI made the announcement on Twitter.
— BCCI (@BCCI) June 17, 2021
The likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj were not considered for this match. All said and done, this looks like the best playing XI that the India team could have gone with for the WTC final.
If we talk about numbers, India could be in a better position to lift the trophy. Kohli took over the Test captaincy from Dhoni in exceptional and difficult circumstances in the middle of the Australian series Down Under in 2014. Since then he has led India to victory in a stunning 16 of the 20 series he has been in-charge.
These are mind-boggling returns for any captain anywhere in any era of Test cricket history. This period includes an unbeaten run of 10 series (including 9 wins in a row) starting from a 2-1 win in Sri Lanka in August 2015 to a 1-0 win against the same opponents at home in November 2017.
On the other hand, New Zealand has won 13 of the 18 Test series under the leadership of Williamson. There have been four losses - away in South Africa and India in 2016, against South Africa at home in 2017 and in Australia in 2019.
Keeping the numbers aside, the Kiwis are a little better prepared than their Indian counterparts, as they recently beat England 1-0 in the Test series. This is bound to give them a huge morale boost ahead of the match versus India.
Playing XI: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant.