Former Indian cricketer-turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has described New Zealand as Team India’s ‘real discomfort zone’, stating that the Kane Williamson-led unit has an edge over the No.1 ranked side in the world in the upcoming WTC final purely because of the early season conditions in England.
Manjrekar, in his column for Hindustan Times, reckoned that if the World Test Championship final was held in India, then the Kiwis would have been sent packing but given the fact that the marquee event is staged during the first half of the English summer where conditions would be quite similar to that in New Zealand, the Kiwis have a slight edge over Virat Kohli’s men.
“If the World Test Championship final is held in India, New Zealand would be sent packing by the hosts inside three days, but that it’s going to be played in England, and that too in the first half of the English summer, makes NZ a much bigger hurdle for India to cross to win the WTC,” wrote Sanjay Manjrekar.
The former Indian middle-order batsman further explained the difficulties that teams from the subcontinent encounter in England.
Manjrekar added that while India have improved their game significantly on the bouncy tracks of Australia, the swinging conditions of New Zealand and England still remain their nemesis.
He elaborated his point further by alluding to India’s struggles during the Test series in New Zealand last year which ended in a 0-2 whitewash for Virat Kohli’s men as the Kiwi pacers wreaked havoc.
“When in England, all the old gospels of batting resurface—play close to the body, leave that ball outside off, etc. Cricketing conditions in England are similar to those in NZ. Even if Australia is a neighboring country, pitches in NZ are nothing like in Australia, where the ball does not swing and seam much and there is just pace and bounce. To India’s credit, their batsmen have become pretty good of late at handling pace and bounce and hence the improving record in Australia,” wrote Manjrekar.
But NZ, well, that’s India’s real ‘discomfort zone’ as was evident in how India lost the last Test series there. The highest score India could get in the three Tests was 242. To be fair, NZ themselves struggled but they were a little better than India in batting and a great distance better in bowling,” he added.
New Zealand is the only team that beat India [2-0] during the ICC Test Championship cycle and while they would like to do an encore of it in the final, Virat Kohli’s men will be eager to not only avenge the series defeat but also the 2019 World Cup semi-final defeat.