English city of Southampton is going to be on the world stage for the next five days and indeed in the history of Test Cricket for the honour of hosting the first-ever World Test Championship final. The stage is set for the battle between the giants of coloured-ball cricket and India and New Zealand will be facing each other and will be writing history by being opponents of the final of the first World Test Championship.
Kohli's fleet will be locking horns with the Kiwis on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton as the cricketing world is prepared to witness the clash. While New Zealanders are coming to the field from a potential triumph over the host England in a two-Test series, Kohli's fleet was busy in the nets with incessant training and intra-squad match at the hosting venue.
Both the teams are potent and armed with dangerous players and specialists. India had finished on top of the ICC World Test Championship points table with 12 wins from six series and 520 points while New Zealand had finished second with 7 Test wins in five series. As Southampton prepares to host the historic match for the first time in the 144-year history of Test cricket, let's take a look at the top players that you should watch out for in the historical final,
Rohit Sharma: The hitman carries larger responsibility to build a potential partnership and though the pitch is more favourable for bowlers than batsmen, it had seen many high scores in Test, and with that factor, Rohit Sharma's bat is expected to give more treats to the Indian fans and veteran cricketer VVS Laxman has offered two tips to Rohit Sharma and said that the hitman should focus on leaving deliveries outside off. On the other hand, former Kiwi pacer Shane Bond has said that he is expecting a fascinating battle between Rohit Sharma and Trent Boult.
Virat Kohli: Besides getting the honour of captaining the team for the first-ever World Test Championship, Kohli needs to deliver the captain's knock and strategies to lead his fleet. Kohli can be expected to build momentum if he gets a steady start and stand on the crease. Kohli has played ten tests in England and has scored 727 runs at an average of 36.35. Out of these 727 runs, 593 came during India's last tour to England in 2018.
Jasprit Bumrah: India's hopeful bowling specialist Bumrah would give a crucial boost to the Indian team by levying pressure on the Newzie batsmen. Joining hands with Mohammed Shami, Bumrah will be powering up the Indian bowling line-up. Bumrah has tarnished most of the dangerous batting order in the world both in the limited over editions and in Test cricket. Bumrah has played three Tests in England and has picked 14 wickets, including a five-wicket haul at Nottingham.
Rishabh Pant: Being the young gun of the Indian fleet, Pant has emerged as one of the outstanding batsmen and become one of the most highly-rated players in world cricket for the past two years. His attacking tenacity and tight-holding the crease regardless of bowlers would add a significant amount of quality to the team. Pant has scored 162 runs in three Test matches in England and his highest score was 114 runs that he scored in the Oval.
Trent Boult: One of the promising Test bowlers currently, Boult has always been a trouble for India, and his brilliant bowling can drive New Zealand at a good pace. He is as dangerous for India as Bumrah for New Zealand. Boult is looking forward to having a breakthrough in his career in the final and it's known truth that he won't leave any chance which would collapse Kohli's fleet and bonus fact is, he enjoys bowling in England as he had picked up 27 wickets in five tests including two five-wicket hauls, one of the significant records of a bowler from the other side of the world.
Kane Williamson: One of the young and potent captains, Williamson is no way less than the traits of Kohli. He comes to lead New Zealand with a tag of being the world's top-ranked Test batsman. Williamson has been in tremendous form in the longest format of the game with two double centuries - 251 and 238 against West Indies and Pakistan respectively. He however has an average of 26.10 runs in England.
Ross Taylor: One of the most experienced cricketers of the New Zealand squad, Taylor would tailor the middle-older batting line-up of New Zealand. The veteran batsman can balance the slow, steady, and smashing innings and he would bet with Rohit Sharma on who is going to be the best batsman of the World Test Final. Taylor has played nine Tests in England and scored 650 runs including an unbeaten knock of 154 that he scored in Manchester in 2008.
On Thursday, Virat Kohli had addressed a press conference concerning the Final Test during which he said, "It is a huge Test Match and we are looking forward to it. We are not focused on the weather forecast. We have all our bases covered." In the evening hours of Thursday, BCCI had announced the Playing XI of India - Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammed Shami.
When and where you can watch the match: The World Test Championship Final will be commencing in Southampton at 3.30 pm IST from Friday -June 18. The match will go on till June 22 and Star Sports Channels will provide live TV coverage of the match while you can see live streaming on Hotstar. The winner of the Final will receive $1.6 million (Rs 11.71 crore) while the runner-up will get $800,000 (Rs 5.85 crore) and June 23 is kept as a reserve day to make up for any lost time due to weather or over-rate issues.