New Zealand relish 'ideal' build-up to WTC final against India


15th June, 2021 09:23:07 PM printer

New Zealand relish 'ideal' build-up to WTC final against India

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor said Tuesday that his side's preparations for the inaugural World Test Championship final had been "ideal" after a morale-boosting series win against England.

The Black Caps are full of confidence after beating Joe Root's men 1-0 in the two-match series while Virat Kohli's team last played a competitive game at the end of March.

India's players have had to settle for an intra-squad practice game after undergoing quarantine both at home and in England as part of coronavirus protocols.

The World Test Championship (WTC) final, taking place from Friday in Southampton, on the south coast of England, comes after two years of Test series to determine the finalists.

Taylor, 37, said New Zealand had benefited from playing in England before facing India.

"Ideal preparation, having two Test matches against England in these conditions," said Taylor. "I think we're very lucky that our CEO managed to get these matches and obviously the guys gained some match preparation in these conditions.

"Couldn't think of anything better."

But the 37-year-old, a veteran of 107 Tests, played down any potential psychological advantage for New Zealand.

"I think it probably gives our players a little bit more confidence but India have got a very balanced (squad) and their depth has been amazing," he said. "I'm sure the warm-up game they had would have been like a Test match."

New Zealand reclaimed the world number-one Test ranking from India after their series win against England but Taylor said Kohli's side were long-established as the team to beat.

"India have been the world number one side and kept that bar very high for a long period of time that everyone around the world has had to try and catch up to," he said.

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara admitted his team were at a disadvantage compared to New Zealand but said they were well-prepared and had valuable experience of English conditions.

"It is something we can't control," he said. "It's challenging times all over the world because of the pandemic. You can't have all the luxuries of having extra time for preparation so the game is still going on and that's the most important part."

Pujara, 33, who has played 85 Tests, said the mental side of the game was crucial for India after their limited match time in the run-up to the game.

"Mentally you need to be up for it because sometimes you have a little bit of time for preparation and you are not playing any practice, first-class game or any other Test matches before an important game because of quarantine and all the restrictions which are there."

Pujara praised India's much-vaunted bowling attack for propelling the team to the final, with pacemen Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami all in the squad.

"The reason we have reached the finals is because of our bowling. They have been able to take 20 wickets and won so many Test matches for us."