Team India is set to leave for England for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, followed by a five-match red-ball series against the hosts. In contrast, the Black Caps will clash with the Three Lions at their backyard in two Test matches before having a face-off with India during the WTC final.
Critics are divided over who would win the duel of the inaugural WTC. While former England skipper Michael Vaughan had earlier stated that New Zealand would be at an advantage since they would put-to-practice their abilities in the two red ball contests against the hosts, former England off-spinner Monty Panesar had reckoned that the game could swing to either side depending on how New Zealand perform during the two Tests against England.
Talking about the same, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar opined that the Kiwis could be on the backfoot when contesting with India since the two Test matches against England might injure their players. Gavaskar further added that losing to England could also lower their confidence.
“The pessimists are suggesting that playing two Tests before the WTC finals will be a huge plus for the Kiwis as they will be match ready and better acclimatized to the conditions. The flip side of playing those two Tests is that New Zealand could get beaten and thus be low on morale when they take on India and there could be some injuries and niggles to some of their key players which can happen in early June in England,” Gavaskar wrote in The Telegraph.
Taking cognizance of India’s victory against Australia earlier this year, the batting maestro added that the subcontinental side knew how to turn adversity into an opportunity.
“The other factor that will work in the Indian team’s favor is that they will be fresh and raring to go and that sheer energy and enthusiasm to be able to play the sport they love after a month’s gap will more than make up for any lack of match practice. This is a team that has tasted success and that too in adverse circumstances, so any adversity will be looked upon as an opportunity to show they have the gumption to rise above it and conquer it,” Gavaskar added.
The 71-year-old argued that his country could also seal the series against England since they would get enough time between the grand event and the series against the hosts to play some practice games.
“The summer in England promises to be the golden summer of Indian cricket. After the WTC finals, there is a gap of about six weeks before the Test series starts against England and that should be enough for the team to play some practice games and tune-up for what England can hurl at them. It is foolish to try and predict the score but it looks like it will be an Indian summer in England,” Gavaskar asserted.
Reflecting on the green pitches in United Kingdom (UK), the cricketer-turned-commentator reckoned that India have world-class seamers who could battle the day when needed, and there was nothing to worry about.
“Having moaned about the pitches in India earlier this year, it won’t be a surprise if the groundsmen in England leave a little grass on the surface. That is no longer a worry as India have an attack that will also thrive on it and cause problems for the England batsmen too,” Gavaskar concluded.