WTC FINAL 2021

WTC FINAL- ROAD TO FINAL

The D-day is drawn on June 18 , 2021 at the Hampshire’s The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, England as the World’s Firstever Test championship and Kohli or Williamson who will join Clive Lloyd (   First Ever ODI WC title in 1975) and M.S. Dhoni ( first ever title T20 WC in 2007) is the million dollar question.

  WTC Final: Michael Vaughan Says “Fancy New Zealand To Beat India” In World Test    Championship Final. So, India will win the WTC Title as Vaughan was always proved wrong.

Stakes are high for both Captains viz., Kohli and Williamson as the ICC title still eludes them.

Indian Cricket Team is raring to play the inaugural World Test Championship(WTC) Final against New Zealand on 18th June at the historic stadium of The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, England.. 

INDIA’S JOURNEY TO WTC FINAL 

After two years of gruelling action which was played out between 9 teams, the Virat Kohli-led side and the Kiwis came out on top and will fight for the first-ever World Test Championship title.

The points system was changed mid-way through the tournament due to the Covid-19 pandemic as the test series all over the world couldn’t get completed. The Indian cricket team pulled off a stunning victory over Australia in their own backyard by 2-1 and then came from behind  with a resounding victory over England by 3-1 to book their place in the Cricket Image for Indian Cricket Team Journey To World Test Championship Final

WTC Final.

Image Source: AFP

The journey of the Indian team could have been a straightforward one, however, Pandemic caused a complete change in how the teams were supposed to qualify for the finals and the Virat Kohli led side had to fight back till the end.

India vs west Indies in West Indies, 2019

The first series India played under the ICC World Test Championship was against West Indies. It was a two-match test series which India won comfortably by 2-0.

In the first at  Sir Viv Richards stadium, North Sound, India won comfortably by 318 runs as  A. Rahane hit a powerful century in the second innings  preceded by 81 runs in the first innings and was adjudged man of the match.  Hanuma Vihari also hit a majestic 93 runs and Ishant Sharma took 5/43 in the first innings and it was Jasprit Bumrah’s 5fer in the second innings that turned the match in India’s favour.

 5 for 7 – Jasprit Bumrah’s figures in the second innings,  was the least expensive five wicket haul by an Indian bowler in Test history.

In the second test at Sabina Park, Kingston it was Hanuma Vihari’s century in the first innings and followed by 53 in the second and again Jasprit Bumrah tore the west indies batsmen in the first innings to set up an easy victory for India by 257 runs .

Ind v SA, South Africa tour of India, 2019: 

In October 2019, South Africa came to India for a three-match test series. India being the home team won the series whitewashing the Proteas  by 3-0. In the three matches Rohit Sharma  scored heavily with 529 runs including  a double century and got two MOM awards and MOS award and  in the second test, Indian captain Virat Kohli was adjudged player of the match as he hit magnificent double century ( 254) 

Ind v Ban, Bangladesh tour of India, 2019:

Bangladesh came to tour India in November. The two-test match series saw  India beating them mercilessly by an Innings in both Tests including  India’s first ever Day/Night test match conducted in India at Kolkata. Ishant Sharma was the player of the series for picking up the most wickets(12). He was also the man of the match in the second test while Mayank Agarwal was the star in the first test. After the end of this series, India was cruising with 160 points.

NZ v Ind, India tour of New Zealand, 2020: 

India toured New Zealand in February 2020 for two test series. It was a disastrous tour for India as they lost both games. Indian batsmen failed to score runs as in both matches, two Kiwi bowlers – Tim Southee and debutant Kyle Jamieson – were adjudged player of the match. Southee was also declared man of the series for his 14 wickets. 

Aus v Ind,  INDIA TOUR OF AUSTRALIA,  2020-21: 

India toured Australia for a four-match test series in December-January. However, in between, the points system was changed and India had to somehow beat the Aussies to keep themselves in the race of WTC Finals. 

After suffering a humiliating defeat in the first test at Adelaide in the D/Nmatch registering a very low score of 36 all out in the second innings, India bounced back at MCG with a fine century by the Stand-in Captain A. Rahane and won the test, drawing the Test at SCG with a dour batting by Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin and finally winning the Test at GABBA, Brisbane in the twilight of the match by a scintillating knock by wicket keeper Risabh Pant and the young bowlers including 3 debutants Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan and Shardul Thakur delivered the punch.

It was a watershed series in Indian Test history as the bench strength rose to the occasion as the senior players were not available due to injury and Captain Kohli  was also unavailable due to the birth of a child. 

India defeated Australia 2-1 in the end, that too, with an almost second-string team

IND Vs ENGLAND IN INDIA

After the high of Australia, India still had to win at least two games against England to qualify for the WTC Finals but the start was not good as India lost the first of the four test matches at Chennai. However, as is wont  India made a strong comeback as they finished the series 3-1. With the series win, India not only qualified for the finals but also topped the points table with the highest percentage of points earned  – 72.2, the criteria for qualifying.     

NEW ZEALAND’s ROAD TO WTC FINAL 2021

After a rough start to life in the World Test Championship, New Zealand have become the first team to qualify for this year’s final in June.

NEWZEALAND TOUR OF SRILANKA

New Zealand’s road to the World Test Championship final got off to a rocky start in Sri Lanka. Playing in Galle, New Zealand slumped to a six-wicket defeat as captain Kane Williamson registered the rarest of ducks.  Though in the first innings both teams were in equal footing, in the second innings Srilanka prevailed over the Kiwis as the Srilankan Captain D. Karunaratne scored a brilliant century while chasing.  

But  Kiwis fought back brilliantly in the second Test  at Colombo inflicting a humiliating innings defeat and the Kiwis  did not leave the subcontinent empty-handed. Off the back of centuries from Tom Latham (154) and BJ Watling (104 not out), the Kiwis stormed home to an innings and 65 run win, levelling the two-Test series 1-1.

That saw Williamson’s side head home with 60 points in the WTC or – as would later become key – 50 per cent of the points available to them.

Australia 3 – New Zealand 0, December-January 2019-20

New Zealand’s hopes of making the WTC final were  dented severely   during the horror tour of Australia.

They crossed the Tasman with mounting expectations but were drubbed mercilessly by the Aussies  3-0 in the end.

In fairness to the Black Caps, they ran into an Australian team in ominous form. Marnus Labuschagne averaged 91.50 and scored two centuries including a double. David Warner and Travis Head each scored centuries of their own, and with the ball Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins all averaged less than 20.

At the end of the series, New Zealand still had only 60 points, 25 percent of what was available to them.

New Zealand 2 – India 0, February 2020

Then the Kiwis had fantastic home series against all major countries in 2020 and a slew of victories came in their way in home conditions. 

India had a dreadful series in New Zealand as they were beaten blue by the marauding Kiwis by 2-0.

New Zealand did not have to wait too much longer for more points though, beating Virat Kohli’s India 2-0 at home. That is two of the three losses India have suffered so far in the WTC.

In spite of their handsome victories at home against S.A. and Bangladesh,  India quickly found themselves on the backfoot against New Zealand, suffering a 10-wicket loss at Wellington where they failed to pass 200 in either innings. Southee (4/49) and debutant Kyle Jamieson (4/39) shared eight wickets in India’s first innings and the veteran helped himself to 5/69 in the second innings to leave New Zealand needing to chase just nine runs to win.

Jamieson backed up his fine debut with a five-wicket haul in the second Test (5/45) and by the match’s fourth innings, New Zealand were chasing a potentially tricky target of 132. A 103-run opening stand between Latham (52) and Blundell (55) ensured they got the job done with a minimum of fuss.

New Zealand finished the series with 180 points, 50 percent of what was available to them at that point.

New Zealand 2 – West Indies 0, December 2020

It was another 10 months before New Zealand played another match in the WTC, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the cricket calendar.

With several series needing to be postponed throughout 2020, the ICC announced in November that the WTC finalists would be determined through percentage of points earned rather than total points.

At this stage, New Zealand sat fourth on percentage points (50), behind England (60.83), India (75) and Australia (82.22).

Having made up ground with their 2-0 win over India in February, New Zealand resumed their march to the final by beating the West Indies 2-0 at home.

Captain Williamson led the way in the series opener, scoring a momentous 251 at Hamilton, walking off to a standing ovation from the crowd and handshakes from most of the West Indies line-up. That proved the backbone of New Zealand’s total of 519/7 and an eventual innings and 134 run win.

Williamson sat out the second Test for the birth of his first child, but New Zealand found a way to get the job done without him.

Henry Nicholls stepped up with a big century (174) to help New Zealand to a total of 460, and five-wicket hauls from Southee (5/32) and Jamieson (5/34) in the first innings paved the way for an innings and 12 run victory.

For the third straight series New Zealand picked up all 120 points up for grabs, taking their percentage up 62.5 per cent.

New Zealand 2 – Pakistan 0, December-January 2020-21

New Zealand continued their winning streak when Pakistan toured, registering yet another 2-0 series win.

Returning from the birth of his child, Williamson was at the heart of his team’s success against the touring Pakistan outfit.

The captain started the series with a century (129) to set up a 101-run win at Mount Maunganui, and he took things a step further with a double-century (238) in the second Test, making it three hundreds in his past three matches.

Incredibly, he was still outshone in the second Test, with young quick Jamieson taking 11 wickets for the match (5/69, 6/48) to be named player of the match in an innings and 176 run win.

The 120 points collected took New Zealand’s haul to 420 and crucially their percentage of available points up to 70.

It also saw New Zealand rise to the top of the ICC Test Rankings.

ENGLAND-NEW ZEALAND TEST REVIEW

ENGLAND – NEW ZEALAND EDGBASTON TEST REVIEW

COVID PROTOCOLS

The LV= Insurance Test Match between England and New Zealand at Edgbaston was the first pilot event within the second phase of the Government’s Events Research Programme. There were around 18,000 spectators each day, 70 percent of total stadium capacity  On all the 4 days including the 4th when England was sure to be defeated. All the individual ticket holders presented a negative COVID-19 result from an NHS Rapid Lateral Flow Test, completed within 24 hours in advance of the day they are attending, and gave  consent to take part in the programme. The pilot event will be used to analyse testing protocols for all spectators in attendance, the use of social distancing and face coverings when moving around the stadium, and gathering further evidence on the risk of transmission at mass participation events. As part of these Government protocols all ticket holders will need to be aged 16 and over.

Picture courtesy : cricinfo.com

FORTRESS BREACHED 

The Edgbaston ground is a favourite hunting ground of the England team.  They were defeated only once in 2019 against Australia since 2008.  So it was like a fortress for England.  And when New zealand defeated England  yesterday it was a la Australia’s defeat to India last year at GABBA. 

The Kiwis  bench strength came to the fore and  did the trick at Edgbaston ground.  New zealand made as many as  six changes in the team including their captain Kane Williamson, (who was nursing an injury )that played at Lord’s last week.. In fact Matt Henry who did the early damage in England’s both innings was a replacement for Tim Southee and bagged the Player of the match award with 6 crucial scalps in the match.

ENGLAND’s batting woes continued from Lord’s and here at Edgbaston, Birmingham in the second Test as New Zealand completed the formalities on the 4th day and ensured a facile victory without any hiccups as they chased a paltry 38 runs for the loss of 2 wickets only 

  &  wrapped the two-match series with a win1-0  with almost 2 days to spare. Thus ending the hegemony of England at Edgbaston.   It was also the first series victory of the Kiwis over England in England since 1999 and their three consecutive series win against England  as they defeated England in 2018 & 2019 in their home series.

The Kiwis bowlers exploited the chinks in the armoury of England’s top order batting with the exception of Rory Burns, (who continued his good form and scored 81 runs) and Dan Lawrence (who also scored 81 runs) made heavy inroads in their batting line up.   And only a late order surge by Mark Wood and Dan Lawrence helped the team reach 300 runs in the first innings. 

It was thoroughly a team effort of the Kiwis in the batting unit  as 3 top order batsmen including Will Young who played in place of Kane Williamson, crossed 80 runs and took a sizable lead of 85 runs in the first innings.

It was the second innings capitulation of England batsmen and it could have been worse but for the 8th wicket partnership of 44 runs between Olly Stone and Mark Wood England ended the 2nd innings with 122 runs as they were tottering at 76/7.   

it was a thorough exhibition of all round skills of the Kiwis team that brought victory.  And England had to lick their wounds as they were defeated in their own backyard .

 In the post match presentation, Joe Root  clearly mentioned that the Kiwis outplayed them in all the three departments and he was also put an embarrassing position and has been obliged to answer questions about the Ollie Robinson affair, a rest-and-rotation policy over which he has little control, or a plethora other issues like .

 contesting allegations of institutional racism, and wrestling with the issue of historic social media posts which demonstrate the sexist and racist attitudes which pervaded in the past, it feels inappropriate. But with his soft voice  he defended his team, he took responsibility for underperforming personally and he refused to hide behind excuses.

So  it’s not worth quibbling over whether Jack Leach, the successful spinner should have played at Edgbaston or whether England’s slip cordon is standing at the correct angle. The problems go far deeper than that.

RAGING CONTROVERSY OF UMPIRE’S SOFT SIGNAL

The soft signal by the field Umpires issue reared its ugly head  here at Edgbaston When Devon Conway edged a delivery from Stuart Broad and Zak Crawley at gully grabbed the ball and claimed the catch and all England players were in jubilation mood to celebrate it.  But the on-field Umpires referring it to the TV Umpire with a soft signal of NOT OUT.  And the TV Umpire had to concur with the on-field umpires though it was observed that the fielder’s fingers were under the ball at the time.  Now, the bowler in the equation Stuart Broad vociferously contested the wisdom of SOFT SIGNAL of the Umpires and asked ICC to look into this issue and withdraw the Soft Signal by on field  Umpires and ECB officials also endorsed Stuart Broad’s suggestion.

Already India’s Captain Virat Kohli  and West Indies captain (at the time)  Jason Holder lent their voices against the Soft Signal .  But ICC has turned a deafen ear to the raging issue.

ROUND UP   

 And  in the other Test match played around the same time  at Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Goss Islet, St. Lucia (West Indies) the Pace bowlers had a field day as they took 27 wickets that fell in the Test as the  WEST INDIES suffered a humiliating Innings defeat against the visiting South African team in the First Test led by their new captain Dean Elgar.

After electing to bat , the Windies were blown away by the Proteas bowlers headed by Lungi Ngidi and Nortje for just 97 runs  in just 40.5 overs on the first day, the South Africans put up 322 runs thanks to a brilliant knock by their wicket keeper, Quinton de Kock, who found his form in a blistering attack scored an attractive century.   And in the second innings of West Indies, it was the old horse Rabada, who also found his bowling form ripped through their batting line up with 5fer and Windies folded up just for 162 runs and suffered an ignominy of an Innings defeat.

It was also Dean Elgar’s first win as Test captain, a pleasing result for the new leader. He joined a  list of skippers who led their side to victory despite scoring no runs, taking no wickets and holding no catches in the Test.

LORD’s TEST 2021 ENG-NZL REVIEW

Courtesy : The Telegraph

RAIN FORCES  DRAW

The 2021 England’s Summer season’s first Test between England and Newzeland played at Lord’s  meandered into the tad draw yesterday.  The third day’s play was washed out as it rained in torrents. Though the Kiwis dangled a carrot for England as 273 runs in 75 overs were set for them to chase in the 4th innings on the 5th day  the England team chose to shut the door for a win as they couldn’t force a fast scoring rate and the pitch also didn’t deteriorate as expected on the final day. 

The two players who stood out among the ruins were New Zeland’s Devon Conway and England’s Rory Burns.  Incidentally both were Openers and almost carried the bat in the first innings of their respective teams but in contrasting style.

While the rookie southpaw D. Conway was making Test debut here at the game’s headquarters and wanted to prove the world that age defies logic as the 29 year old opener after emigrating to Newzeland from his own country , South Africa hit a memorable double century and adored the Honours Board at Lord’s , England’s southpaw R. Burns, after being dumped for a few Tests, in his welcome comeback justified his recall with a fine century. 

Both the openers were the top scorers and made the bulk of the runs for their respective side with D. Conway hit a scintillating double century with his team total of 378 in the first innings in a meaty batting conditions , hitting fluent boundaries and  with only Henry Nicholls scoring a half century and it was a treat to the eyes to witness the exuberating batting exploits of him.

For England R. Burns hit a defining century  against heavy odds as in his early innings survived a couple of close LBW shouts and took some blows on his body including on his head and also survived sharp chances including a stumping chance.  

The sparse crowd ( as only a quarter of the capacity was allowed in the stadium) cheered Rory Burn’s glittering century. But for R. Burns century, England would have suffered defeat as the other batsmen have caved in and the tailenders joined him in the rescue operation including the debutant the tall and lanky Ollie Robinson, who was selected as a bowler throw his bat around and shared second highest score of 42 runs  the first innings and James Anderson added 53 runs for the last wicket. 

New Zeland’s bowling attack was spearheaded by the ever reliable legendary swing bowler Tim Southee who scalped 8 wickets( including 6 wickets in the first innings of England) and other bowlers the tall and stout Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner.  England’s bowling attack centered  around the rookie pace bowler Ollie Robinson, who took 7 wickets ( including 4 wickets in the first innings) and the veteran Jimmy Anderson chipping in with a couple of wickets.

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