Experts peg Kiwis to win WTC

NEW DELHI, June 8: Former cricketers Ajit Agarkar and Scott Styris have backed New Zealand to start as favourites in the inaugural World Test Championship final against India, slated to get underway next Friday.
India and New Zealand will lock horns in the finals of the WTC at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. While Styris feels New Zealand will win the summit clash, former India pacer Agarkar said it is difficult to pick one team, but the Kiwis will start as favourites.
“I think New Zealand will win and they will win by 6 wickets. I think Devon Conway is going to be the highest run-scorer and Trent Boult will get the most wickets,” Styris said on Star Sports show Cricket Connected. “It’s a difficult one to pick – who is going to win it. I think New Zealand might just start favourites in this one,” said Agarkar.
The former Indian cricketer has backed skipper Virat Kohli and pacer Mohammad Shami to come out with flying colours.
“For the leading run-getter, I will go with Virat Kohli. I think he showed us what he could do in England – the second time he toured – even under difficult conditions and he’d want to be the man to stand up for India,” said Agarkar.
“I think Mohammad Shami will be the highest wicket taker. I think Bumrah’s rise has been rapid, but to me Mohammad Shami has been India’s number one bowler, certainly in Test cricket and the conditions don’t matter to him,” he added.
The New Zealand team after the second Test against England will transit from the ECB bio-secure environment into the WTC final bubble on June 15 and will be subject to regular testing prior to and post-arrival in Southampton.
Kohli will struggle if ball seams and swings
Indian skipper Kohli will be vulnerable against New Zealand in the World Test Championship final if conditions in Southampton aid swing and seam bowling, said former New Zealand captain and coach Glenn Turner.
“I don’t wish to speculate on whether Kohli’s reflexes have deteriorated. But if the pitch and overall conditions favour seam and swing, he is also likely to struggle along with others as was demonstrated in New Zealand,” the former opener Turner, who was the first batsman to hit a 150-plus score in ODIs, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph newspaper.
“Once again, conditions are going to be pivotal. I think it is true to say that the home conditions, where batsmen are brought up, play a significant part in the technique and skills of a player… English conditions are generally closer to those in New Zealand.
“Although it seems that in more recent times, pitches in India can assist seam bowling, they still can’t be compared to conditions in New Zealand. This was exposed when India last toured New Zealand.”
India last toured New Zealand in 2020 for a series in which they played two Test matches. The Kohli-led India team lost both the Tests as batsmen struggled to handle the Kiwi bowling attack.
Kohli struggled, aggregating just 38 runs across four innings at an average of 9.5.
The tour proved to be miserable for the India batsmen.
India’s best batsman on that tour was Mayank Agarwal, who averaged 25.5 while Cheteshwar Pujara had an average of 25.
Earlier, former Australia pace bowler Brett Lee too had said New Zealand carry minor advantage due to conditions in England being similar to those in New Zealand. (Agencies)

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