Cricket’s oldest and best format deserved its own competition worthy of its stature and finally, that wish was granted. India and New Zealand locked heads in the Final of the inaugural World Test Championship. It was a fascinating contest between the best sides in Test Cricket and there could have only been one winner despite the weather tantrums. This match has been in the making for 2 years now and the build-up was worth the wait and excitement. For the first time, a match to honour a worthy champion in the sport’s toughest and purest format.
While the hopes of getting any result might have been thin at the start, the players were never ready to compromise. New Zealand beat India in a tense match which kept a billion fans on the edge of their seats, even on the reserve day. First 6 day test match in more than 40 years. There are a lot of pointers to talk about but we have summarized the 5 key pointers from this match.
The Nice Guys Finally Win
With the victory in the inaugural World Test Championship final, the New Zealand team adds another feather in their cap. First ICC trophy in more than two decades. With the painful loss in the 2019 ODI World Cup Final, it was sweet redemption for one of the world’s most consistent and hard-working teams. The New Zealand team was disciplined in the entire match and stuck to their strengths. They are the deserved winners and they maintain a near-perfect record against India in ICC events with their only loss coming in the 2003 ODI World Cup.
Another ICC event, Another Heartbreak for Team India
It looked as if India would finally break the jinx and win an ICC event. Alas, the wait continues. India has come close on multiple occasions in the last 8 years. 2014 World T20 Final, 2015 ODI World Cup Semi-Final, 2016 World T20 Semi-Final, 2017 Champions Trophy Final, 2019 ODI World Cup Semi-Final. It is difficult to digest these losses for seemingly one of the most complete and dominant teams in the sport across the formats. While India continues as one of the best teams with a talented roster of players, this team must prove its worth when it matters the most. Let’s hope Captain Kohli and the boys finally break the streak in this edition of World T20.
Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson hurt India, again
In the 2019 World Cup semifinal, India started strong until the most dependable batsmen of New Zealand took strike. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. That partnership turned the match in New Zealand’s favour as the conditions were always going to be tough to chase even a par total. 2 years later, while chasing the target this time, the duo struck an important partnership that shattered all the hopes. They were patient and careful with their approach, neither too slow nor too hasty. With all that experience, they finally took the team past the finish line.
India’s Top Order Fails to Score Big
While New Zealand’s batsmen did their part, their counterparts fell short. While the match was hanging in the balance at the start of the last day, India lost quick wickets in succession to change the odds of the match. While India could have been in the driving seat but they ended up losing control altogether. This was the first test match in the last 3 years where no Indian batsman scored even a 50. In the last 11 test matches since the start of 2020, Indian openers and Big 3 have scored only 2 centuries combined. While they have come close or made some important contributions, a test match requires resilience where every missed chance comes with a cost. Indian team has a long English summer ahead where they play 5 test matches against England. The top-order needs to be in their best form for India to make a statement against the home team.
ICC Needs to be Smarter with Venue Selection
While rains looked to spoil the fun, the fans were lucky to witness the entire match with a result. However, this still raises concerns and questions whether England was the right choice for the match for which teams competed for 2 years. A washed match with co-winners would have left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. For a sport where weather still plays such a pivotal role, it should not be the sole factor deciding the outcome of the match. More so, the concept of joint-winners should not even be a probability in this day and age in a global sports competition. Instead of a single match, a series of 3 test matches can be a better option in case of a draw or wash-out. There will definitely be a few changes before the start of the next World Test Championship season. A few learnings not only for the participating teams but the organizing body as well.
Regardless, it surely brings additional excitement to Test Cricket and provides something to aspire for apart from the usual bilateral series. The teams now compete for more than just pride and bragging rights. Every team will now look forward to kickstarting the new campaign with a bang. Here’s to another exciting World Test Championship.