The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been plotting the World Test Championship (WTC) for over a decade, with the idea first coming to the fore in 2009. It came with a desire to have one pinnacle tournament for each type of international cricket.
Unfortunately, the ICC scrapped the plans to host the competition in 2013 and 2017; however, it finally came in August 2019. The tournament itself is over two years and involves Test matches comprised of the top nine of the 12 Test nations. They each play a Test series against six of the other eight teams, between two to five matches, with the finalists being decided by who had the most points at the end. But, it was determined this year by the percentage of points earned, and New Zealand and India will now contest the final.
India enters the final as the number one ranked Test nation, scoring 2914 points over 24 matches for a 121 rating. They travel to the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, on the back of convincing victories over England and Australia, two behemoths in the international game.
They may be coming in full of confidence, but the New Zealand team is the stiffest competition they'll face, and in a one-off Test, anything can happen. India comes in as favorites, but only slightly at +100, compared to New Zealand at +150. Even a draw wouldn't be shocking at +500. In the online sports betting odds, India boasts an edge in the first innings at -138 and team of the top batsman at -125. These may be slight advantages, but everything counts in a game of this magnitude.
India, of course, will be relying on their captain Virat Kohli, who is one of the greatest batsman men of all time. His leadership will be as vital as his stellar play. However, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane needs to pick up his previous form after a lackluster Test against England. However, he has had a robust competition overall with 28 innings and 1095 runs, followed closely by teammate Rohit Sharma, who has 17 innings and 1030 runs. Naturally, it will be a collective effort, but having players in the final who can produce little bits of magic could see India crowned as the first-ever ICC World Test Champions.
India's last Test in cricket came back in March, so their main disadvantage may come from lack of preparation, but if they can overcome any early signs of rust, they should still come out on top.
As previously mentioned, New Zealand comes into the one-off Test match as an underdog, but it's not by much. They boast the second-ranked Test nation with 2166 points over 18 matches for a 120 rating, only one below India. To say this contest will be tight is an understatement.
In fact, the Kiwis may hold a certain psychological advantage over India as they emerged from their last Test series victories, winning both matches back in February and March 2020.
They will bring a plethora of players on form, like opener Tom Latham to set the tone. Latham has been New Zealand's second-highest run-scorer in the WTC tournament with 18 innings and 680 runs. Number one, of course, is Kane Williamson, who some consider the best batsman in the world. The clever operator has amassed 817 runs at 58.35 in the nine matches of the WTC he has played.
It would be fair to say that New Zealand comes in expecting to win and will have the added advantage of playing a warm-up Test against England in June.
The ICC WTC final shall commence between June 18th and 22nd at The Rose Bowl, Southampton, England. Needless to say, becoming the first champion of the competition would be a true honor, with both teams willing to do anything it takes. However, India is largely expected to come away with the win.