The World Test Championship has tested teams and players across all conditions and India and New Zealand are the two teams who have come out on top. The teams will battle it out at The Hamshire Bowl, Southampton in the much-awaited ICC World Test Championship Final starting from 18th June.
The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team has played 6 nations across 4 countries and tasted a well-deserved win in 5 out of the 6 series. The Indian team whitewashed West Indies, Bangladesh and South Africa. Their campaign hit a roadblock in the two-match series against New Zealand as the Kane Williamson-led side convincingly won the series.
After the shocking defeat to Australia in the first match of the series down under in December 2020, India defeated the Aussies 2-1 in their backyard and won the series 3-1 against England at home and booked their place in the final. Many Indian players have contributed to this journey and the Bharat Army grades them based on their performance over the 2019-2021 World Test Championship cycle:
- Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant and R Ashwin: A+
- Rohit Sharma’s performances over the last couple of years have been a revelation for Team India. The Indian batter started opening the batting in Tests in India’s 2nd series in the inaugural World Test Championship cycle. He is only one of the two batters to score over 1000 runs for India in this tournament and has scored 4 centuries. These are his number in spite of missing a couple of series entirely.
Rishabh Pant has arguably been the best performer for India. He rotated his place in the side, but once Saha was dropped after the Adelaide test, Pant hasn’t looked back. He has played plenty of clutch innings in the 7 matches against England and Australia and is one of the prime reason why India has qualified.
Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker for India in the WTC by a big margin. He has scalped 67 wickets in 13 matches while the second-placed Shami has 37. The off-spinner has been mind-blowing in England as well as in Australia where the conditions didn’t favour him a lot.
- Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal: A
- Shubman Gill replaced Prithvi Shaw in the XI in Australia last year and had an impressive start to his career down under. Due to his impressive performances in tough conditions in Australia in his debut series, he has been graded an A. Since his debut in the Boxing Day Test, he has played all the Tests for India. He scored a couple of half-centuries in Australia, including 91 on the final day at Gabba which laid the foundation for the historic victory. In spite of the lacklustre series against England, the Indian team could persist with the young opener for the WTC Final.
Mayank Agarwal has been a vital part of the Indian squad over the 6 series of the WTC but wasn’t a part of the playing XI in any games against England. He scored 3 centuries and also batted in the middle-order in Brisbane due to injuries in the Indian side.
- Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari: A
- India’s vice-captain has been the leading run-scorer for the side in the World Test Championship cycle. Whenever his place in the side has come up for debate, the batter has silenced his critic with a magnificent performance. Some of the notable innings in recent times were his century in Melbourne and the 62 in Chennai.
Vihari is another player who has stepped up whenever the team has needed him the most. His 161-ball 23 in Sydney helped India to salvage a draw and turned out to be a crucial game in the World Test Championship.
- Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel: A
- Over the past 2-3 years, Jadeja has been one of the first names on the Indian team sheet, due to his all-round performance and the stats reflect it. He has an average of 58 while batting and has picked 28 wickets. Among all-rounders with a minimum of 25 wickets and 200 runs, he has the second-highest average difference of 28.
Another spin-bowling all-rounder who has done well is Washington Sundar. He contributed to both the departments in the Gabba test in which he made his debut.
Axar Patel was the second spinner in the England series as Jadeja was injured and picked 27 wickets in the series, the most by an Indian in a debut series.
- Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma: A
Bumrah and Ishant Sharma have picked 70 wickets. They were relentless in the first 3 series before the injuries meant that the duo were not at their best in New Zealand and Australia.
- Md. Siraj and Mohammad Shami: A
- Siraj has been a pacer who has grabbed his opportunities wisely and is now in the reckoning for a place in the playing XI in the Final. He has picked 16 wickets in 5 innings, including a 5-wicket haul at Gabba in just his third test.
Siraj can play ahead of Shami. The latter has picked 36 wickets at an average of 19 and is the 2nd on the list of leading wicket-takers.
- Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav: A
- Shardul Thakur was initially named a net bowler in the Border-Gavaskar trophy but made his debut at Brisbane where he notched up a century partnership with Sundar and made sure India remained alive in the game.
Umesh Yadav has been one of the best exponents of the old ball in Indian cricket and this strength has helped him in Indian conditions as he was instrumental in victories against Bangladesh and South Africa earlier in the tournament.
- Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli: B
- Pujara has scored 9 fifties, the most by an Indian batter but he hasn’t scored a century. Although some of his performances were more valuable than a century, however, there were more expectations from a player of Pujara’s stature.
The Indian captain has been graded in the same category as Pujara for a similar reason. Kohli scored just a couple of centuries and hasn’t scored one since 2019 against Bangladesh. The skipper didn’t have any noteworthy contributions in the important series against New Zealand, Australia and England. He will be eager to overturn it in the final.
- KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha: C
- KL Rahul plied his trade in the first series against West Indies. He was dropped out of the side ever since as he failed to make a mark and Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were pretty impressive as openers.
During the course of the WTC, Saha didn’t have any notable performances. One of his most impressive performance was with the gloves in the Day-Night Test against Bangladesh where keeping against the pink ball was a challenge.