DUAL INTERVIEW – 14 – WTC FINALS (Preview)

@samtanisonali1
@CertainSoul

Thank you for your participation in this dual interview (preview) of the much anticipated World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand. Let me start by asking you the excitement behind this one.

@samtanisonali1

Very excited. At the risk of sounding cliche, test cricket is the ultimate. Especially when it’s such a prestigious final and the first of its kind! India’s test side has worked extremely hard the past few years to prove itself as one of the world’s best, if not the best. And so I think we go in as favourites to win for this one! Plus, with the early suspension of the IPL, it’s been a lonely time without cricket. I do wish the final was a final series to decide a winner and not a sole test though.

@CertainSoul

Thank you for having me here. World test championship final! The kind of cricket this team has played in this WTC cycle, we deserve to win this. ICC tournaments have always been exciting and the thought that we can be the first world test champions ever is just so amazing.

Advertisements

Obviously, the two-match test series against England will benefit the New Zealand team, but will it also expose any weak points of the team that India can analyse?

@samtanisonali1

Yes, no doubt the Kiwis will benefit from having played English conditions before the final, but I still think we go in even as Southampton will be a new venue for both teams. Plus, India’s analysts will be at work during NZ’s ongoing series against England to generate plans for each player and spot their strengths/weaknesses. To add, India is an established and experienced side. They’ve played in England before and know what the conditions will be like and so I don’t think NZ are at a significant advantage over us. If anything, we come in fresher. Remember Australia this year? Half our team were debutants and we all saw how they capitalized on opportunities they were handed and backed themselves on the day. It’s a mental thing.

@CertainSoul

This is how things work. NZ got the practise they wanted but it did expose their weaknesses too. Now it’s upon which team analyses better and comes up with better techniques to counter.

While India will be playing intrasquad matches for their preparation, how much would that benefit them over playing Ireland or any other team for a test match?

@samtanisonali1

I think Intra-squad games will be a win-win for us. We’re taking a 24 member squad and so it will help them acclimatize themselves to the conditions and will be extremely beneficial in identifying one’s own strengths/weak points or things that need tweaking. With a practice series against another team (Ireland), the goal will inevitably end up being to win, which could mildly take away from the aim to really focus on oneself and prepare. And as I said earlier, India is an established side, they’ve played these conditions before and know exactly what they’re supposed to work on so playing amongst each other will only help them. Plus, schedules are packed and with the Covid situation, there wasn’t any space to fit in a practice series, so might as well prepare tough mentally and make the most of the opportunity you get. Anyway, the most important thing is to have matches and spend time in the middle, not just for the batsmen, but for the fast bowlers and spinners as well. By spending time in the middle, they know what lengths to hit and how to do it, consistently.

@CertainSoul

Intrasquad matches are actually a lot helpful than playing against teams like Ireland. It must have given the practice a team needed against a quality side. Also, intrasquad matches do not expose your weaknesses to other teams so they give a slight analytical advantage.

Let’s talk about the New Zealand team first, what are their strengths and weaknesses in your view?

@samtanisonali1

One obvious strength would be NZ being used to similar conditions, as their home pitches favour the quicks. So they come inexperienced in similar conditions. Plus, their bowlers are all experienced and are in the feisty form currently. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner are all doing wonders against England currently and fairly new Kyle Jamieson has been doing great as well, although this is his first time playing Tests in England. As for batting, captain Kane Williamson is obviously, their biggest strength. Ross Taylor can be a heavy threat on his day but he can be a bit inconsistent. Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and BJ Watling are all integral to their batting successes. But it’s important to note that – Nicholls has never played a Test in England before & Latham has played just 2 in England. Watling and Taylor have played 10 and 7 tests in England respectively but have not made a significant mark during the World Test Championship period. Ross Taylor has scored 469 runs at an average of 31.26 in the WTC while Watling averages less than 30. Williamson has not made a mark during any overseas test during the WTC too. Before their series against England, the Kiwi captain had scored 87 runs in 7 innings on foreign soil at an average of just 11.57. But as I said, they’re all gun batsmen and can be deadly on their day, so I think the ongoing NZ-England series can be insightful in gauging their batting weaknesses in order to come up with strategic plans. Execution will be key. The Kiwis are a top-class fielding side and are a real threat with the new ball. Though as the ball gets older, the Indians might find it easy to negotiate but if the conditions are true to form (overcast), then that threat is constant.

@CertainSoul

New Zealand’ bowling is its strength. Their bowlers have been exceptional in the last few years But their Batting in overseas conditions have let them down a lot of times. So this is a department I think they need to worry about.

They have Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Tom Latham, BJ Watling and Colin de Grandhomme in their experienced batting line-up, how much are you expecting these guys to perform along with others.

@samtanisonali1

It’s better if India goes in with their plans prepared for each and every one of them to perform regardless of their stats or past performances. Each and every one of them are absolute quality players and come with good enough experience under their belt.

@CertainSoul

The way Conway played in the last series, I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on a big day. Ross Taylor has the experience and can be the match-changing person. I am also expecting Williamson to do well, he is a big match player.

Their bowling has always been their strength with Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson as their pace battery, do you think they can get better off the Indian batsmen who traditionally struggle in those conditions?

@samtanisonali1

In England, you are never settled. We tend to see different seasons in one day as sometimes we get overcast conditions and the ball starts moving, then soon we see a bit of sunshine and it becomes a great batting wicket. So I think the key to succeeding in English conditions is to play with soft hands while facing the quicks. Our top order generally tends to chase the moving ball outside off stump in an attempt to play drives, making them prone to get caught out in the slips. So they should be able to counter that extra movement, off the wicket. Going for big lofted drives on half volleys when the ball is moving quite a bit is risky. Pushing it forward and strong defence is key. Once you’re set and acclimatized, going big will feel easier. And as Pujara once said, there are times when balls faced matter a lot more than runs scored.

@CertainSoul

They are definitely at advantage with regards to the condition and the fact that NZ bowlers do good and stand up for the team on big days but I think Indian batsmen can do well if they somehow survive the initial sessions.

Advertisements

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian team?

📷 – Virat Kohli’s Instagram

@samtanisonali1

One of our biggest strengths is our improved bowling attack over the years. Our fast bowlers are consistent and we have them in quantity, which is rare. Jadeja and Ashwin add tremendous balance to our side as we all know how capable they are with the bat too. However, our spinners on non-Indian pitches can be lesser effective than on Indian pitches, not saying that they can’t pick wickets, they surely can but running through a batting lineup is a rare instance. Although they’re extremely effective in run restriction and setting up a batsman for their wicket. A weakness of this Indian side could be brittle batting. There is a lot of experience in the batting order this time around, so this is probably our best chance, but we tend to give ourselves away early on because the extra movement and swing are not combatted well enough. So maintaining a good temperament and facing as many balls will be key. Also, one of our added advantages is Kohli and his ‘never give up’ attitude being instilled into the team. That will be extremely beneficial for us on such an important occasion. And as Gavaskar recently said, this is a team that has tasted success and that too in adverse circumstances, so any adversity will be looked upon as an opportunity to show they have the gumption to rise above it and conquer it.

@CertainSoul

This is the best playing 11 I can think of out of the squad they selected. The bowling unit looks really strong. Our bowling can win us matches. Opening partnerships not being able to survive long sessions is what I fear. The top-order needs to do good.

It’s not like Rohit Sharma doesn’t know how to play in England as he has shown his prowess during the Champions Trophy 2017, England tour in 2018 and World Cup 2019. How will he fare with the red ball?

@samtanisonali1

There is a reason why Rohit Sharma with the red ball, doesn’t have a record befitting his stature as a batsman. He has been known to be vulnerable against the ball coming into him, he tends to come down late on it. With the movement and swing on offer in English conditions, Rohit is always a candidate for either a slip catch or an LBW. With that being said, we’ve seen how he performed in Australia this year. He started slowly and carefully without taking much risk, but only once he gets set, the odds are always that he will go on to get a big one. In LO cricket, the pitches are invariably always flat, and you have two new white balls that don’t swing as much as the red ball does on pitches that are made for test matches, which should work to his advantage. Getting set and taking it slow will be key for him.

@CertainSoul

It’s a fact that Rohit Sharma struggles in these conditions, especially in red-ball cricket but the kind of player he has been, I expect him to outperform his abilities. If he survives the initial few overs, a set Rohit Sharma will be a treat to the eyes.

After that BGT series victory earlier in Jan, and that comeback against England at home, how confident would this Indian batting line-up specifically be against the NZ attack?

@samtanisonali1

I think this Indian side will be one of the most confident Indian sides we’ll see going abroad. And I think the Border Gavaskar series this year will have a big role to play in it. Our youngsters would be extremely confident with most having made their debut and succeeding in Australia, for eg Shubman Gill. But yes, nothing can be taken for granted, especially when the stakes are so high. I think our batting is very well prepared and greatly experienced for the most part, so succeeding against NZ this year will mainly come down to good preparation and even better execution.

@CertainSoul

As a fan, the BGT series has left a huge impact on the way I look at this team. This team carries the ability to defeat the best teams on paper even if it’s not their best day. The X factor of this batting line-up, Rishabh Pant, is whom I’m expecting to be our best performer.

Few words on the Indian bowling unit that has done wonders outside the home for the past three years or so?

@samtanisonali1

In my opinion, our bowling has been completely revolutionized under Kohli’s captaincy. Especially our pace attack, which I believe can step up and perform anywhere in the world. Teams could plan how to combat our bowling easily in the past. Now, things have changed. We’ve had a terrific rise of fast bowlers in the country who have proven to be long term assets for us. The way Siraj bowled so accurately, hitting the right lengths consistently and executed his plans to the T in Australia earlier this year was phenomenal to witness and spoke volumes about the mindset they’ve been trained into. We now have at least 4-5 fast bowlers who can hit 140-145 clicks consistently too. This new India forces oppositions to think about what wickets they want to offer to us.

@CertainSoul

This bowling unit is fearless. They play to win, they are not scared of getting hit while trying out new things, all they care about is getting wickets. This attitude is what makes them better than others. I expect Jadeja to perform exceptionally good.


Thank you for reading. Share the article if you liked. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on any cricket related interviews.

Twitter – @bhavsarJ2_0
Instagram – @bhavsarj2_0 @icf2_0

A massive thanks to @samtanisonali1 and @CertainSoul for sharing their thoughts in this dual interview. Make sure you are following them on Twitter. THANK YOU!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s