Recent Match Report - India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021

Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021

Report

All the stats, analysis and colour from the title bout of the inaugural World Test Championship

Gear up for the Ultimate Test. It’s Virat Kohli’s India taking on Kane Williamson’s New Zealand in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship, in Southampton. Here’s ESPNcricinfo’s live updates – please refresh your page for the latest, or click here.
Click here for ball-by-ball commentary. Here’s our live coverage in Hindi.

10.15am

Best possible WTC given constraints

There has been a lot said – mostly in derision – about the format, about the points system, about everything in this WTC. “How can a home Test against Bangladesh carry the same weightage as an Ashes Test?” “Why are away wins worth the same as home wins?” “Oh the changes midway made it difficult for my team.”

Since we have time to pontificate now, allow me a moment. I will keep it quick since this is a Live Report. I felt a bit of the same at the start but then I looked at it from the ICC’s point of view. You think the Big Three were going to let go of the scheduling imbalance just for the WTC? Besides, in an ODI World, you do get the same points for beating Bangladesh as you do for beating England, don’t you? Here you are getting the same points for a series.

In no World Cup are away wins given more weightage anyway. And if you do down that route, the next question will be, why is an away win in Bangladesh worth the same as an away win in India? The format as is is a fair and objective way to go insofar as the FTP allows. In a cycle, each team plays three home series and three away. In some cycles, you will get tough away tours – as India did this cycle – and in some others you might get easier ones.

Regarding the changes midway, well suck it up. We live in a Covid-19 world. We must be thankful that we have got to watch what we have. Percentage of total points contested is not an unfair way to decide the finalists without moving the final into 2022. And there is no way that you can objectively and demonstratively say that the changes made it difficult for India to go through. It is not unreasonable to think that Australia and New Zealand would have done well on their tours of South Africa and Bangladesh. Just as it is not unreasonable to think they might not have won more than 70% of the points contested. However, the fact is, had those tours gone ahead, there is an even chance India might have missed out on this final. As things stand, though, India have qualified with the highest percentage of points own, and no one who has watched Test cricket for the last four years will disagree with that standing either.

The only sour note is a one-off Test to decide the winner, but how can it be helped? There is just not enough time in the schedule to fit in a three-Test series. What can help is the success of this cycle and the possible broadcast interest, the only way to open up a window. Then again I am not holding my breath.

9.30am
Southampton is a port city. They have live box cameras at the port terminal. Since early this morning India time, which is late night Southampton time, the stream has been taken over by cricket fans to see if it has stopped raining. We are not going to link to them because this is not a welcome presence on their feed. They have had to warn cricket fans they will be blocked if they keep asking them for weather updates or chat cricket in their live chat. Here is a picture of google search interest in “southampton weather” over the last month.

The host broadcaster in India streamed the Viat Kohli pre-match presser live. There were wraparound shows to analyse the press conference. Before India left for England about a month ago, there was a general throwaway off-the-record line before their departure press conference from Virat Kohli to Ravi Shastri – unaware that the camera was on – seemingly on how Siraj can be used against New Zealand, who were batting against England at the time of that press conference. Since then, fans on Twitter in India have done animated debates on who will make way for Siraj.

New Zealand rested at least three first-choice players in a live rubber in England – a Test series there being the holy grail for them – to have them fresh for the WTC final in Southampton.

It might not quite be the panacea for all the ills in cricket and Test cricket, but this mania round the final tells you the WTC has been a success despite its flaws. It helps that India are in the final, but the interest in New Zealand is not insignificant. This tournament is actually the best the ICC could have managed given all the selfish interests of the member boards and the commercial demands of the times.

As you know by now, we have run into unfortunate weather and the toss – scheduled at 10am, half an hour from now – is not likely to take place on time. For more immediate updates and commentary, we have our excellent ball-by-ball commentary over here. For a more of a considered analysis, and all other distractions, here is Sidharth Monga bringing you the Live Report

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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