Sunday, January 16

Virat Kohli Downplays the Importance of the India-New Zealand World Test Final | World Trials Championship


It wasn’t exactly Gerald Ratner talking about jewelry or Colin Graves talking about the T20 Blast, but you could almost feel the organizers grimacing as Virat Kohli downplayed the importance of the inaugural World Test Championship final that begins on Friday.

Speaking 24 hours after the game in Southampton, in which India takes on New Zealand after a two-year cycle that was nearly derailed by the pandemic, Kohli was asked if this was the biggest test match of a career. that he had already secured his place in history.

“No, for me this is another test match that has to be played,” Kohli replied. “I think these things are very exciting from the outside, where there is so much importance and so many additional things attached to a game. It becomes a kind of life or death.

“But for us as a team, we have been in the quest for excellence for a while and we will continue on that path no matter what happens in this game. It is no different for us, it is no more important to us than the first test that we played together as a group of young players. The mentality remains the same. “

Kohli went on to assert that the notion of a single Test Match decided by the best team in the world “is not the reality of the truth,” which, he said, is defined by a body or work over several years. And, as was the case after India won the 2011 World Cup, “life will go on” regardless of the outcome.

To be fair, such conversation is not atypical of a sportsman on the eve of a big game, with the process, not the result, often cited as the primary concern. But perhaps it also betrayed some concerns about a New Zealand side that already played two Tests on English soil this summer and impressed enormously. India, on the other hand, has been forced to settle for cricket within a squad since it arrived and may be less battle-hardened.

Despite a complaint about the overhaul of the ‘league’ structure mid-tournament (winning percentage replaced points due to the number of pandemic-related cancellations), Kohli was very supportive of the concept, it must be said, pointing out the additional incentive it gave. teams on the road.

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The 32-year-old has long been an advocate of test cricket and promised that his team would still try to bring the same “passion and intensity” that has been the hallmark of his cricket under his leadership. This represents one of the many contrasting elements that make this encounter with Kane Williamson’s icy New Zealanders such an engaging prospect.

The David and Goliath story has largely been featured in preparation and off the field it holds true to some degree. Be it population, money or talent pool (India has 688 professional men in its system, compared to 134 in New Zealand), there is a huge gulf in terms of resources. Neither party will refuse to accept a £ 1.2 million winner’s check (half for runners-up and a split jackpot if a tie means the title is shared), but it will represent a higher payday for runners-up. Kiwis.

Kane williamson
Kane Williamson leaves the field after net practice on Thursday. Photograph: John Sibley / Action Images / Reuters

In the field things are more even. Williamson’s attack is a bit better than a handful of smooth stones ripped out of the river bed, with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner making up four fabulous fours. And unlike David, they are not lacking in armor given a hitting lineup that recently taught England a significant lesson in the value of a solid defense.

New Zealand was still deciding its final XI before the pre-10.30am outing at the Rose Bowl: spinner Ajaz Patel might appear ahead of off-roader Colin de Grandhomme, but it would require trade-off in terms of a longer tail. – and, in another contrast, India chose to name her own shortly after Kohli had spoken.

Beyond a hitting unit that combines the stubbornness of Cheteshwar Pujara with the outrageous style of Rishabh Pant, and a hitter like Kohli, who although without a century since the end of 2019 rivals Williamson for the best on the show, has two spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra. Jadeja and three seamers.

As Kohli said, he will have a lot of options with the ball and, in his opinion, hitting is not compromised. After fifteen days of scorching sun on the south coast, rain is forecast during the match and could reach a sixth day if necessary, although the India captain insisted that he was “not bothered” when asked about it.

Fast guide

Final teams of the World Test Championship

Show

India (confirmed): Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (week), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

New Zealand (possible): Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (week), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult.

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The International Cricket Council certainly will, having seen years of debate and delays finally give way to something akin to credible competition. In addition to tweaking the point system, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic forced him to make the understandably cautious decision to bet on the Rose Bowl’s proven biosecurity over Lord’s history and prestige.

This, plus a reduced crowd of around 4,000 due to restrictions, means that the backdrop will decrease slightly. But regardless of the visuals, and whatever Kohli is telling his players to keep their minds focused on the job at hand, it’s hard not to get sucked into the prospect of this unique Test Final.


www.theguardian.com

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