The mega cricket carnival – World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand had an ominous beginning with rain gods showering their blessings profusely to dampen not the playing venue but in equal measure marred the interest of the cricket enthusiasts world over. However, telecast started as scheduled and viewers were glued to their TV to see action at Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The viewers had double disappointment in store, first rain playing spoil sport and second not finding their favourite seasoned commentator Harsha Bhogle on the small screen. While rain may relent on day two but the iconic commentator will be missing from the commentary box.
On the other hand, Sunil Gavaskar, Kumar Sangakkara, Nasser Hussain, Simon Doull, Isa Guha, Ian Bishop, Michael Atherton, Craig McMillan and Dinesh Karthik are part of the star-studded commentary team of the cricket fiesta. It is learnt that circumstances forced Bhogle to withdraw his name from the elite commentary panel.
While the ground staff was kept on its toes till the game was called off for the day, the players kept themselves busy in their respective dressing rooms. While New Zealand players were engrossed in their books and coffee hoping for the rain to stop and play to begin in Southampton. There were banters as showers continued outside. When rain did relent, the Indian team members led by Ravichandran Ashwin decided to engage in a game of dart. The hopes of getting play, however, were dashed quickly as the umpires after initial inspection called off play on the first Day of the inaugural World Test Championship final without even the flip of coin.
However, weathermen have predicted that the weather would be slightly better on second day, allowing commencement of action at the Ageas Bowl. The morning session would witness sun playing hide and seek with the cloud cover of 45 per cent. However, afternoon session may not be cricket-friendly with 18°C temperature, precipitation 60 per cent, humidity 81 per cent and wind 14km/h. While officials and players were eagerly awaiting the commencement of cricket, only commentators were bee busy. It will be worthwhile to quote their valued views on the outcome of the biggest ever cricket festival.
Records reveal that India topped the table by amassing 520 points from six series while New Zealand recorded 420 points from five events. There was clarity and confidence in the Indian camp by announcing their playing XI day before the action. Nevertheless, a section of experts feel that the Kiwis are the dark horse of the tournament. They opine that the conditions in England are very similar to that of New Zealand. Hence, Kiwis would be more at home than the Indians. In addition, playing two Tests against England provided them enough time to adjust, a 1-0 win is a confidence–cum–credible pointer. Another plus point for the New Zealander’s is their win over India in the WTC league. The mute question coming days will provide answer, “if Kane Williamson’s men will upset India again or Virat Kohli’s men will defy the odds.”