The Indian men’s team have flown to the United Kingdom (UK) and now have two weeks before the all-important World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand. Virat Kohli and co are likely to undergo hard quarantine for three days before they can resume practice.
Before the Indian team boarded the flight to London, skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri addressed the pre-departure press conference. Almost all the questions from the journalists were straight forward and there wasn’t anything extravagant that was said by Kohli or Shastri.
However, it was one moment that has got the social media buzzing. That moment came just before the press conference started. It was an online event and just before the questions came in, Kohli and Shastri were heard discussing the score of the ongoing Test match England and New Zealand at Lord’s. They were also discussing some of the tactics they might employ against the New Zealand batsmen in the WTC final.
The captain-coach duo may not have been aware that they had gone live. In fact, Kohli also asked the media manager after the conversation if they were live.
Shastri and Kohli were quoted saying something along the lines of creating a rough outside the off-stump. While the head coach mentioned the likes of Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, Kohli said even the Indian team might employ their fast bowlers to bowl from around the wicket.
— DeepaK_17 (@79foreveR_) June 2, 2021
Kohli and Shastri were keeping a close eye on the proceedings of the England-New Zealand Test match and after just one session, they started discussing plans for the New Zealand batters. That is a pretty good sign.
The captain-coach duo said that they’ll start with the fast bowlers bowling from around the wicket straightaway. New Zealand are likely to have three left-handers in their top six – Tom Latham, Devon Conway and Henry Nicholls. And it might not be a bad ploy. According to CricViz, Tom Latham’s average facing fast bowlers from round the wicket is 20 runs less when compared to over the wicket. There isn’t much of a difference for Henry Nicholls while Devon Conway has just made his debut.
Tom Latham averages 51.77 v right-arm over the wicket but just 31.56 from round the wicket. Stuart Broad has form against left-handed openers from this angle – will Latham join the club? #ENGvNZ
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) June 2, 2021
This round the wicket ploy will also help create quite a bit of rough for someone like Ravichandran Ashwin to use. As Shastri said, New Zealand have a couple of left-arm pacers as their premier Test bowlers – Trent Boult and Neil Wagner which will only aid in creating the rough.
Ashwin has an excellent record against three of New Zealand’s top four. The premier Indian off-spinner has scalped Kane Williamson five times while he has also dismissed Ross Taylor five times. Tom Latham has fallen to Ashwin four times as well.
Yes, things will be different come the WTC final and the conditions in Southampton will be in stark contrast to what Ashwin gets in India. But the rough may just play into Ashwin’s hands and his record against some of the top Kiwi batters is just the icing on the cake.
Moreover, Kohli was caught stating the names of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami (referring to him as ‘Lala’). That could well mean that Siraj and Shami are almost certain starters in the playing XI for the WTC final. Meanwhile, Jasprit Bumrah is a certainty as well. So, could that mean Ishant Sharma is in doubt to play the WTC final and Siraj might get the nod ahead of the veteran fast bowler?
India have a plethora of options and have a potent bowling attack. In fact, they are spoilt for choice. They have four gun fast bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. They have Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav in the squad as well. The spinners have done exceedingly well too. Moreover, the team management has shown it’s ability to plan well as it was evident in their mind-boggling Test series win in Australia.
There is absolutely no doubt that India have a massive chance going into the WTC Final, especially with their bowling attack. It is only the batters who need to step up and adapt to the conditions. If the top six can get runs on the board, India might well be very well placed.