Coach Shastri calls it ‘biggest ever’ occasion, bats for best-of-three decider in future editions
The conditions early in the English summer could suit New Zealand better than India in the inaugural World Test Championship final. And with the benefit of having played a two-Test series in England ahead of the big clash, New Zealand could well be the better-prepared side. But India captain Virat Kohli has stressed that the WTC final will be a clash of equals.
“Things are as potent for New Zealand as they are for us. Australian conditions should have favoured Australia but we beat them twice in two series,” Kohli said on Wednesday in a virtual interaction with the Indian media ahead of the squad’s departure to England.
“If you want us to board the flight from here feeling like New Zealand has got the edge, then there’s no point taking that flight. We’re going to board that flight knowing that we’re on equal terms and whichever team performs well session by session, hour by hour, is going to win that championship.”
Kohli also disagreed that India would be less prepared than New Zealand.
“In the past we have landed even three days prior, even in proper schedules, and have had a hell of a series,” he said. “It is not the first time you are playing in England, we all know what the conditions are like. We don’t have any issues heading into the game. We are absolutely sure of what we can do as a team.”
With India having topped the complicated league stage on route to the final and multiple Test specialists equating the WTC final to a World Cup final, head coach Ravi Shastri summed up the occasion.
“It is the first time that there is a WTC final and when you look at that and the magnitude of the game that is going to be played, I think this is the biggest ever [moment],” Shastri said.
“It is the toughest form of the game. It is not that it has happened over three days or three months, it has happened over two years where the teams have played each other around the world and earned their stripes to play the final. It is one heck of an event.”
While Kohli said that the final “holds a lot of value” to the squad since Indian cricket has progressed “in the last five-six-seven years”, Shastri hoped that in the future the WTC final would be contested over three Tests.
“Ideally, in the long run, if they want to pursue this WTC, a best-of-three final would be ideal, as a culmination of a two-and-half-year cycle,” Shastri said.