WTC final: Decoding New Zealand's starting XI against Team India
New Zealand and India are set to meet in the ICC World Test Championship final, starting June 18 at The Ageas Bowl. New Zealand beat England 1-0 in the recently concluded Test series. They have also toppled India to become the number one side in the Test Rankings. NZ have named a 15-member squad for the WTC final. Here we decode their starting XI.
Devon Conway made a sparkling start to his Test career after scoring a double-century in his debut against England this month. He followed it up with an eight-run knock in the second Test. Conway will lead New Zealand's charge at the top alongside Tom Latham. Notably, Latham led NZ to victory in Kane Williamson's absence against England. He also went past the 4,000-run mark.
New Zealand will welcome Kane Williamson back to the side after the skipper missed the second Test with an elbow injury. His presence at number three means Will Young will have to make way. Young had done well in the second Test, scoring an 82-run knock. The Kiwi management is confident in having Williamson back after his one-week rest and rehab.
NZ's middle-order will consist of veterans Ross Taylor and BJ Watling. Taylor batted well in the second Test against England, hitting his 35th fifty. Watling had missed the match due to an injury and is set to be back. Notably, this will be his final match for New Zealand. In between, Henry Nicholls will be present as well, promising an experienced middle-order.
NZ have options in the form of Kyle Jamieson and Colin de Grandhomme as all-rounders. However, Jamieson is set to get the nod. The 26-year-old has already taken 39 wickets in his Test career, having played seven matches at an average of 15.15. He has also scored 235 runs at 47.00.
Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner boast of a quality pace attack for the Kiwis. Southee decimated England in the first Test, claiming a six-for in the first innings. Boult made a return to the second Test, claiming six wickets in the match. Meanwhile, Wagner claimed seven scalps across the two Tests. This means Matt Henry will not figure in the WTC final.
Ajaz Patel is likely to be present as the lone spinner in the side. He was picked in the squad ahead of Mitchell Santner. Patel showed his class, taking four wickets against England in the second Test, besides scoring a gritty 20-run knock.
NZ predicted playing XI: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wicket-keeper), Kyle Jamieson, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner.