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WTC Final: New Zealand will definitely come in to Southampton with an advantage, says Ravichandran Ashwin

Team India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin feels New Zealand will come into the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final with the advantage of having played in England just before the important clash, which starts from June 18 in Southampton.

New Zealand are playing a 2-Test series against England as part of their preparations for the WTC Final whereas Team India will straightaway face the Black Caps without any warm-up matches. New Zealand’s second Test will end just 4 days before they face India at the Ageas Bowl.

Notably, the Indian players came into this tour after playing the shortest format in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 last month. They will only be playing Test cricket in England this season therefore, getting into the mould of red-ball cricket won’t be as easy, even for the No. 1 Test team in the world.

“I expect a very-well planned and a well-knit New Zealand team to come at us and obviously, having played two Tests in England they will definitely come in with an advantage so we have to adapt quicker.

“It has to be the most exciting part of playing Test cricket, in all these years it’s (WTC Final) never happened, we have never played a team on a neutral venue but I think going forward, the World Test Championship could add context to two teams playing away from their home, bringing the ebbs and flows of the game,” Ashwin said on bcci.tv.

India qualified for the WTC Final as the most successful team in the competition, having won 12 out of the 17 Tests they played in the competition period between August 2019 and March 2021. They won 5 out of the 6 Test series they played, including two historic Border-Gavaskar series wins in 2018/19 and 2020/21 in Australia.

New Zealand on the other hand, won 7 out of the 11 Tests and clinched 3 series victories out of 5 to reach the final.

Elaborating on his point, Ashwin went on to add: “Test cricket is the ultimate form that we have, it is also the greatest test of a cricketer’s ability, mental space and everything else. For a long time cricketer’s wanted this sort of a space, some context to Test cricket. I am looking forward to the final actually.”

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