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World Test Championship: Edge with India in tie of bowlers

Former India pacer Ashish Nehra picks his line-up for WTC final
Ashish Nehra.
Ashish Nehra.
File photo

Sayak Banerjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 19.05.21, 02:10 AM

The World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in Southampton may well turn out to be a contest between the bowling attacks of the two teams.

Former India pacer Ashish Nehra believes so and would like to put his money on Virat Kohli’s men.

In English conditions, the quicks from both the teams are expected to play a key role in the match, scheduled for June 18-22.

“Of course, both India and New Zealand have very good fast bowlers. But if you look at our bowlers, (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami can bowl well even on flatter decks.

“As for the New Zealand attack, Trent Boult is obviously a class bowler, while Neil Wagner too has been there for quite some time and is experienced as well. But when there isn’t enough swing on offer, I don’t know how useful and effective Tim Southee could be.

“Kyle Jamieson is a good prospect, but he does need a little more experience,” the former left-arm quick, who had 44 wickets in 17 Tests and 157 scalps from 120 ODIs, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

“Going back to our team, not just Bumrah and Shami but even Ishant (Sharma) is there. And looking at what he has achieved having played 100 Test matches, his presence is another strong point for India,” Nehra said.

Unless conditions at the Ageas Bowl are loaded in favour of quicks, India should play three pacers and two spinners, prescribes Nehra. “If you come across a green top, then you certainly can think of including an extra pacer, which I feel should be Mohammed Siraj given how well he has been bowling,” he said.

“But otherwise, I think the bowling attack should be Ishant, Bumrah and Shami as the three fast bowlers, with (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja as the spinners.

“Of course, there’s still almost a month left for the final and how each of the quicks fare in practice sessions as well as their fitness levels would also be taken into account before the XI is announced. But the advantage of playing with this attack is that Ashwin and Jadeja can contribute with the bat too, and runs scored by the lower order turn out to be priceless.

“If Jadeja and Ashwin are in the XI, the team will have all bases covered in terms of bowling,” Nehra explained.

New Zealand bowling coach Shane Jurgensen recently said that their pace attack is “similar” to that of the lethal Windies attack of the 80s. Nehra was a bit amused, though he didn’t wish to say much on record.

“See, without an iota of doubt, they are all class bowlers. But I feel comparing them to the Windies attack of the 80s would be a little too much,” he said.

Nehra, however, agrees that more practice sessions with the Dukes ball and the two Tests versus England could help the Black Caps in their preparations ahead of the WTC final. “That’s one area which could help New Zealand,” he agreed.

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