WTC Final: India will start as favourites against New Zealand: VVS Laxman

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WTC Final: India vs New Zealand: Time table, Date, India time, Venue, Squads, TV channel, live streaming info

The Virat Kohli-led Indian side is set to take on Kane Williamson’s New Zealand in the inaugural WTC Final starting on September 18th in Southampton.

Laxman said the Men in Blue will start as favourites in the marquee clash due to the depth, experience and talent in the India team.

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“I feel that India start as favourites, the reason being if there is one team over the past two years of this cycle of World Test Championship, who are being consistent, who have won both at home and overseas, it has been India.

“Beating Australia in Australia in-spite of humiliating defeat in the first Test and they lost captain (Virat Kohli), the main captain not being available for rest of the series, a lot of injuries to the senior players but still going on to beat Australia in that fashion and there is so much of depth, talent and experience in this Indian line-up, whether it is the batting department or bowling department,” PTI quoted Laxman saying during a virtual press conference organised by ‘official broadcasters’ Star Sports.

The former Indian cricketer, who was joined by former West Indies pacer Ian Bishop and former Kiwi speedster Shane Bond, added that the current Indian team is capable of overcoming whatever challenges come their way.

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“While it will be evenly matched, there is no doubt about that contest, because New Zealand have got an advantage of already playing England in these conditions but I think India can take a leaf out of what New Zealand have done,” added the stylish right-handed batsman, who amassed 8,781 Test runs.

“New Zealand did not have any practice matches before the series against England but they beat the home side in their own backyard, without any practice matches.

WTC Final: India vs New Zealand stats, records preview; Ashwin’s hold over Williamson, Pant’s dropped catches

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“I think this Indian side is capable of overcoming whatever challenges they will confront and backing their experience and talent to beat New Zealand,” he stated.

Talking about India’s opening combination, the legendary cricketer backed the young Shubman Gill, adding that the opener looked to be in good rhythm and should continue opening the innings along side Rohit Sharma.

“Well, I would like continuity. I think Shubman Gill is a wonderful talent, he has shown what he is capable of doing under pressure,” Laxman said.

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“So, I would back Shubman Gill and also in the intra-squad match, he scored an 80 plus score, so that means he is in good rhythm, his rhythm is untouched here, so I would still back Shubman Gill to open with Rohit Sharma.

The 46-year-old added that India was fortunate to have Mayank Agarwal on the bench, but Gill should open for now. “India is fortunate to have Mayank Agarwal again on the bench, who also has done well in Test match cricket, but at the moment, I would back Shubman Gill to open with Rohit in this Test match.”

Meanwhile, talking about Rohit Sharma, Laxman said the opener needs to focus on his off-stump. “For any opener, it’s very important to know where your off stump is and Rohit since the time he’s opened for Indian team the way he played against South Africa, he knew where his off stump was, very disciplined at the start of the innings. And if that’s something Rohit can replicate in England I’m sure that he can perform well.

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Laxman said Rohit is a match winner but a big challenge for the opener will be Trent Boult. “He’s a match winner for the team. But knowing where your off stump is and letting go of the balls outside off stump is something which Rohit requires to focus on.

“He’s got another challenge in the form of Trent Boult who gets the ball in. He also knows that against Boult you cannot take his left leg across. He has to play as much as possible with the full face bat towards the bowler or umpire,” signed off Laxman.

The five-day game with a reserve day will start on September 18th.

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Match will start at 3:30pm IST

Live on Star Sports Network

(With inputs from PTI)

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