New Zealand Predicted XI for the World Test Championship Final
After winning the two-match test series against England, New Zealand is set and prepared to face India in the upcoming ICC World Test Championship Final starting on 18th June.
The Kane Williamson-led squad is the only team to win a series against the ‘Men in Blue’ in the World Test Championship and would be looking forward to defeating the Indian team away from home at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.
The Kiwis have the perfect preparation for the grand finale as they played hosts England in a two-match test series with coach Gary Stead playing most of his squad in the two matches to give each member of the traveling party a chance to prove themselves ahead of the battle against Virat Kohli’s men.
India is no ordinary opposition though as they have won the ICC test mace for five consecutive years between 2016 and 2021 completely dominating teams at home and giving them a fair fight and coming out on top in foreign conditions as well.
The Black Caps are facing a dilemma in selecting their fast bowlers for the WTC final with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson, and Matt Henry all performing at the top of their game recently. They don’t have a similar problem in the spinner selection though as Mitchell Santner has been left out of the 15-man squad for the match with Ajaz Patel making the final cut.
Here, we will look at the possible New Zealand XI that might get a chance to play in the inaugural WTC final between two of the biggest giants in international cricket.
Top Order: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson
There were concerns over the New Zealand batting line-up before the England tour with none of their players even making the list of ‘Top 15 players with most runs in the World Test Championship’.
The Kiwis vice-captain Tom Latham has 680 runs in 18 innings at an average of 40 with fellow opener Devon Conway set to make his WTC debut after scoring a double century on his international test debut against England less than a fortnight ago.
Skipper Kane Williamson is the star of the Kiwis squad with 817 runs in only 14 innings at an outstanding average of 58.35 and a similarly exquisite strike rate of 57.05. the team. The fitness of the 30-year old has been a matter of discussion in the Black Caps camp for the majority part of last week and his ability to bat for a long time on the crease would certainly be tested by the Indian bowling attack.
Middle Order: Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson
A mainstay in the Kiwis batting line-up, Ross Taylor has not scored a century in the World Test Championship and the team would be banking on the 37-year old to come good in Southampton and finish his wait to win the first major ICC trophy of his career.
Henry Nicholls with 585 runs in 15 innings in the WTC has been a reliable figure in the New Zealand middle order and is expected to be selected over the in-form Will Young.
Both Tom Blundell and BJ Watling could make it to the XI based on their past performances in the WTC but the former gathered more runs for his side in the recently concluded England series and holds an edge over Watling.
Kyle Jamieson looks undroppable in his current form as the lanky bowler has 36 wickets in 12 innings in the ongoing WTC. The 26-year old has also scored 226 runs in 6 innings and can contribute with the bat at No.7.
Lower Order: Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult
Tim Southee had an excellent WTC as he took 51 wickets in 20 innings at an average of 20.66 and the 32-year old fast bowler took 3 fifers as well.
You would be forgiven if you didn’t bet on Neil Wagner to be the best left-arm fast bowler in the WTC but the veteran proved a lot of doubters wrong by taking 32 wickets in 14 innings. Ajaz Patel is the lone spinner in the 15-member squad and has to get picked in the playing XI to trouble the resilient Indian batting line-up with the old ball.
Trent Boult is the player that completes the Kiwis line-up as his raw speed and the abilities to swing the new ball will trouble a few Indian batsmen with Matt Henry providing cover for Boult.