English cricket fans know all about the quality of India and New Zealand’s Test teams and the pair look set for a fascinating World Test Championship final, starting at the Rose Bowl on Friday.
India have already claimed impressive Test series victories in Australia and at home to England this year while New Zealand warmed up for the final with an excellent eight-wicket win over Joe Root’s hosts at Edgbaston.
The Black Caps are
8/5 to be crowned champions with a victory over
39/20 shots India although a far from perfect weather forecast means the draw is a
9/5 chance. If there is no positive result then the teams will share the trophy.
Captains Aiming to Lead By Example
The fiery Virat Kohli and the understated Kane Williamson are contrasting characters on the field but they share a vast appetite for runscoring in all forms of the game.
India’s top-order batsmen should face a tough examination against the new ball and it is worth noting that opener Rohit Sharma,
7/2 to top-score, averages just 27 after 20 away Test matches compared with 79.52 at home.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has a more accomplished overseas record and he could be worth a small bet at
7/1 having spent time at the Rose Bowl as a Hampshire player and reached 50 in three of his four Test innings at the ground.
Boult Could Rattle India’s Batsmen
Trent Boult looks a worthy
5/2 favourite to be New Zealand’s top first-innings wicket-taker after picking up six scalps in the win over England at Edgbaston.
He poses a huge threat with the new ball and is also trusted to come on and clean up the tail as he did in Birmingham, dismissing Olly Stone, James Anderson and Stuart Broad (twice).
The left-armer has now taken 27 wickets in five Test matches in England and he also averages better than five wickets per game in home Tests against India so he should cause real problems in overcast conditions.
India’s spinners dominated their home series against England but they have an excellent pace attack of their own and Mohammed Siraj, who took 13 wickets in three Tests in Australia this year, is an interesting price at
7/2 to be their top bowler if he makes the 11.
Expect Pace Pyrotechnics in St Lucia
South Africa claimed their first away Test win since 2017 thanks to a blistering display from pacemen Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, who bowled out the Windies for 97 and 162 in Gros Islet last week.
Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock scored a brilliant unbeaten 141 out of a total of 322 for the Proteas but his fellow batsmen struggled against home quicks Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Jayden Seales.
Only two other players reached 50 in the first Test so it could be worth a punt on no century being scored at
4/1 when the teams meet again at the same venue for the second Test.
*All odds correct at time of writing