We are less than a week away from the World Test Championship Final, where India will face New Zealand in Southampton for the Test Mace. While New Zealand is preparing for it by competing against the home team(England) in a two-match Test series, India is prepping themselves in practice matches and simulations. But as we approach the match day, the question over India’s final bowling attack still looms. With the recent performance of new faces and the return of the experienced ones, the Indian bowling combination for the WTC final remains a mystery. Though this mystery will only unravel on the match day, we have predicted what the Indian bowling combination might look like in the much-awaited WTC final.
Predicted Indian bowling combination for the WTC final:
Ishant Sharma has something other bowlers in this young Indian bowling lineup lack, and that is his experience. He has been tested in all kinds of playing conditions and situations like no other active Indian bowler has. Whenever you are playing away from home, you need to have an experienced leader who your inexperienced bowlers can look to for guidance when things are not going your way. And that is what Ishant brings to the team for India.
Apart from his experience, Ishant also has the most wickets on England soil(43) to back his cause. His tall height, blazing pace, and ability to reverse the ball make him lethal in English conditions. Ishant is also the most identical to Ollie Robinson, who troubled New Zealand batters the most in the recently concluded first Test against England. So, he might be India’s best weapon against a resilient New Zealand batting lineup.
Jasprit Bumrah has evolved into India’s leading pacer over the past few years. The awkward angle he creates with his unorthodox bowling action makes even the best batters in the world uncomfortable. Add to that a pace over 140 and a pinpoint accuracy, and you get one of the best Test bowlers of modern times.
Bumrah is the only bowler other than Ishant Sharma in India’s bowling lineup for the WTC final to take a fifer on English soil. His bowling average and strike rate in England are far superior to Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadavs’. This makes him a preference over other Indian bowlers in the WTC final squad.
Some might argue that Mohammad Shami is a far experienced bowler than Mohammed Siraj, and India should go with experience over recent performances. But Shami hasn’t bowled with a red ball for seven months now and is returning from an injury. Moreover, his latest Test endeavours in England weren’t as impressive. He averaged over 38 and spent runs at an economy of 3.6 in his last five matches in England.
On the contrary, Siraj has proved to be an asset for the Indian team in their recent Test triumphs. He has also been a consistent red ball bowler for the last seven months. He has proved his case in both away and home conditions. Additionally, he can consistently hit challenging areas at over 140 kmph, creating more chances in the process.
Ravichandran Ashwin is one of those bowlers who can take wickets on any track they bowl on. Even if the pitch is not assisting spinners, the genius cricketing mind of Ravi Ashwin manages to come up with a trick or two to deceive batters. This skill has allowed him to rise through the ranks to become India’s 4th highest wicket-taker of all time in Tests with 409 wickets.
Ashwin can be a huge asset against New Zealand as their batting has struggled the most against him in the past five years. So, if he could extract even a slight turn from the Southampton pitch, New Zealand might find themselves in trouble. Moreover, Ashwin’s redemption with the bat against Australia and England has strengthened India’s lower-order batting providing more depth.
Ravindra Jadeja is the only all-rounder that provides India with the luxury of having a proper bowler and a proper batter at the expense of just one spot in the XI. However, there is more to his inclusion than being a perfect all-rounder.
Jadeja is the 2nd highest wicket-taker(16 wickets) against New Zealand in the last five years. He is also the 2nd highest wicket-taker for India in all Tests played in the same period with 152 wickets. This makes Jadeja a bowling asset for the Indian Cricket Team. Furthermore, his left-arm orthodox compliments Ashwin’s right-arm off-break providing more variation. Jadeja’s inclusion also consolidates India’s overall fielding exerting more pressure on the opposition.