NEW DELHI: The highly anticipated final of the World Test Championship (WTC) between India and New Zealand is now around the corner and former British medium speed runner Ryan Sidebottom believes the mega-fight will be an uphill battle between number one (India) and the number two (NZ) test team in the world.
“You have to match India in terms of strength and depth of players. But I think it will be a close game. New Zealand are always very competitive. And they know how to hit back.” Sidebottom told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
India and New Zealand are already in the UK. New Zealand is currently playing a test series of two games against England. The first game ended in a draw.
Since Kane Williamson was excluded from the second test with a left elbow problem, Tom Latham was given the task of running the blackcaps in the second test.
Kane Williamson (AP photo)
However, Kiwi Camp is confident that Williamson will be fit to lead the team at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in the WTC final against India on June 18. There will be a reserve day for the WTC final to protect the game against bad weather.
The Indian team, which reached Southampton on June 3, held its first group training session on Thursday in a compound adjacent to the Ageas Bowl. This happens five days after they were allowed a staggered training in small groups in the run-up to the WTC finals starting next Friday, June 18.
We had our first group training and the intensity was high 🔥 # TeamIndias 🇮🇳 Preparations are in progress in f… https://t.co/BXoIBDHOG9
– BCCI (@BCCI) 1623299846000
Sidebottom, who played 22 Tests, 25 ODIs and 18 T20Is for England between 2001 and 2010, believes that a duel between India and England in the WTC final would have been an exciting competition as well.
“It’s disappointing not to see England (in the final). It would have been fantastic to see India against England in the final of the Test Championship. New Zealand will give India a game and I’m looking forward to seeing it too because it is” the very first time (WTC finals). It is important for test cricket and for the brand (of) test cricket. I wish the Indian team the best of luck, “the 43-year-old told TimesofIndia.com.
Alastair Cook and Ryan Sidebottom (TOI photo)
Sidebottom, who withdrew from all formats of first class cricket in 2017, played 3 Tests and 1 T20I against India. He was part of the English test team that hosted India in 2007. Sidebottom played the first Test of his career against India at Lord’s, sacking VVS Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble and RP Singh in the first innings. In the second innings he got the wickets from Sourav Ganguly and Kumble. He claimed six wickets in the match, which ended in a draw. In the second test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Sidebottom sent MS Dhoni back to the cabin for a paltry 5. India won this match with 7 wickets. In total, the England pacemaker took 7 wickets in 3 tests against India.
In the only T20I that Sidebottom played against India (group game of the ICC World Twenty20 2009 at Lord’s), he claimed two wickets. He dismissed Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma in his allotted 4 overs and conceded 31 runs. The 6-foot-4-inch sidebottom was named Man of the Game in England’s three-run win that game.
When asked what his best memory of the game against India was, Sidebottom said, “To play India in the Test Series in 2007 and bowl with the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Dhoni, Trent Bridge was really special Test. I think I threw 19 overs for 20 runs in one day and bowled wonderfully. I kind of got Sachin to play and miss quite a bit, but I took a wicket. This is a special moment that I remember. ”