File: A cricket ball seen lying in grass. Pixabay/Auk002
SOUTHAMPTON - India face New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship final on Friday in a match that could have a profound influence on cricket globally.
New Zealand are battle-hardened thanks to a 1-0 series win against England completed on Sunday with a dominant eight-wicket win at Edgbaston after a draw at Lord's.
"Ideal preparation, having two Test matches against England in these conditions," said experienced New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor ahead of the five-day match in Southampton, on England's south coast.
"Couldn't think of anything better."
The Blackcaps, who won in Birmingham despite making six changes, are set to welcome back captain and star batsman Kane Williamson and pace spearhead Tim Southee.
Many cricket fans around the world would be happy to see New Zealand, a country with a population of around five million, compared with India's 1.3 billion, win a major global title after their agonising Super Over loss to England in the 2019 50-over World Cup final at Lord's.
There is also widespread admiration for the way a well-balanced side has made the most of slender resources.
India have not played a competitive game since the end of March and have had to make do with an intra-squad practice match while undergoing quarantine.
But they proved their strength in depth when an injury-hit side recovered from the humiliation of being dismissed for 36 in the first Test in Australia to win a four-match series 2-1 with a sensational chase in Brisbane in January -- and that without inspirational captain Virat Kohli.
The gifted batsman is now back in charge of a side that also features Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane as well as spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, with a pace attack led by Jasprit Bumrah.