India will take on New Zealand in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship in a bio-secure bubble at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton from June 18-22, the game’s governing body ICC said on Wednesday. Initially, the final was supposed to be held at the Lord’s but the ICC Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to change the venue to ensure that the fixture could be staged safely with the potential impact of COVID-19 minimised for all involved.

“In selecting the Hampshire Bowl, the ICC drew on ECB’s experience of delivering a full summer of bio-safe international cricket in 2020,” ICC said in a statement. “The venue provides world-class playing and training facilities, giving both teams the best possible environment in which to prepare.” The governing body added “should the UK government’s phased easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures proceed as planned, it is anticipated that a limited number of fans will be allowed into the Hampshire Bowl to watch the final.” New Zealand were the first team to qualify for the final and they were joined by India following their 3-1 series win over England which concluded on Saturday.

“The ICC World Test Championship final is the pinnacle event in the Test calendar and is intended to be a week-long celebration of the oldest form of the game,” Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager, Cricket said. “We are confident that in selecting the Hampshire Bowl, we have given ourselves the best possible chance to successfully deliver the final whilst keeping everyone involved safe and healthy and giving fans the opportunity to watch the two best Test teams in the world go head-to-head for the right to call themselves the ICC World Test Champions.” ECB Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said: “We are delighted that the ICC has chosen to host the inaugural World Test Championship Final at The Hampshire Bowl. “As the world’s first fully bio-secure cricket venue, it has shown itself capable of delivering international matches to the highest of standards, even against the backdrop of a global pandemic. “I am sure the finale of the ICC World Test Championship will be a wonderful occasion.”

The final of the World Test Championship is less than a month away and while the Indian team has stepped foot on English soil, New Zealand had arrived in the UK ahead of their two-Test series against hosts England.New Zealand were the first team to make the final of WTC final, which will be played from June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Their opponents will be India, who sealed their place in the final by securing a win in the fourth Test against England in Ahmedabad at home.

The WTC final will see a repeat of the ICC World Cup 2019 semi-final, where New Zealand triumphed India by 18 runs in a rain-effected two-day contest. For Virat Kohli’s India, it’s about retribution. Besides the WC S/F loss, India suffered a 0-2 defeat during their Test series in New Zealand in 2020 as well. Clearly, New Zealand have the edge on the basis of recent performance.The WTC final has got the cricketing world excited promises to be a fascinating battle. Former England captain Michael Vaughan has come up with his his pick to win WTC final, believing New Zealand will pip India on the basis of the following reasons.

In English conditions, the Duke ball, and India on the back of a busy schedule… they’ll arrive pretty much a week before and go straight into it, New Zealand have two test matches, you could argue warmups against England to get them prepared for the final,” Vaughan told Spark Sport.”So it’s quite an obvious one for me, New Zealand will be better prepared and they’ll have more of a group of players who’ve played more cricket with the red ball, particularly the Duke ball here in the UK. New Zealand, all the way.”Vaughan weighed in on the possibility of the current New Zealand side being the best in history.

Of course, there have been New Zealand greats in the past who have defined the previous eras, but Vaughan reckons there’s something about the current team that really distinguishes it from the rest.”It’s not difficult, you haven’t had many great teams. You’ve had great players, you go back to the 80s, Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe were up there with the greatest to have ever played test match cricket. As a team, Brendon McCullum’s team were exciting and vibrant but I never felt they were consistent because they let the opposition in by playing so aggressively,” Vaughan added.”Under Kane Williamson you’ve started to play high class, disciplined test match cricket over long periods, and real quality teams do it over day one to five.


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