Ahead of the WTC final between India and New Zealand, Tim Southee has called Rohit Sharma a tremendous player across formats and has warned the Kiwis to be wary of the dangerous Indian batting line-up. Southee has also stressed on the need for the Kiwis to devise plans for the Indian batters.
India and New Zealand are set to grapple for the inaugural World Test Championship final on June 18 in Southampton, and ahead of the mega-clash, New Zealand bowler Tim Southee has hailed Indian opener Rohit Sharma as a tremendous player across all three formats.
Given Rohit Sharma’s struggle against swing bowling in different conditions, doubts have raised doubts over his ability to tackle New Zealand’s new-ball pair of Trent Boult and Southee. Many experts and pundits have voiced their opinion and have mentioned that the Indian opener might potentially have a torrid time against the Kiwi duo in the WTC finale.
But senior New Zealand pacer Southee feels that Rohit has the calibre to pull the game away from the opposition, and believes that the 34-year-old is one of many dangerous customers in India’s batting unit.
“Rohit is a tremendous player in all three formats. He's personally a guy I like watching bat. He can take the game away from opposition. But I know as a bowling group that it's a dangerous batting lineup throughout," Southee said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
"For he's only one of many, many very good batters in this lineup and we know we're gonna have to be on top of our game."
It was only 14 months ago that the Kiwis whitewashed India 2-0 in a one-sided Test series, and the two-match series saw the Blackcaps devise perfect plans for every Indian batter. Southee acknowledged the class of the Indian batting, but revealed that the Kiwis are confident of coming up with effective plans to make life difficult for the Virat Kohli-led side.
"It's an exciting batting lineup, a mix of experienced guys and a couple of young guys who are coming to play with that freedom and the excitement that they have. Nowadays, there's plenty of footage out. So, we will discuss footage and then come up with plans which will hopefully work," Southee said.
The World Test Championship kicked-off two years ago and the competition has had its own shares of criticism throughout the course. Some have been left unhappy with its seemingly iniquitous points system, while others, such as Ravi Shastri, have felt that a best-of-three final would be ideal. Southee admitted that there is room for improvement, but insisted that the current format has been fair to all teams involved.
"At the start of the two-year cycle, we knew that it was going to be a one-off final. Maybe it's something they can look at going forward and then potentially make changes,” Southee mentioned.
“It was made clear two years ago at the start of the cycle, what was required to win the championship.”
"It's been great to put context around the Test game, to have the two-year cycle. There have already been adjustments going forward to the next cycle. So, it'll be an evolving thing," he added.
This WTC final will be New Zealand’s third appearance in an ICC tournament final in the past six years, after they ended on the losing side in both the 2015 and 2019 50-over World Cups. Many in the current squad, including Southee himself, have been on the wrong side of things not once but twice, despite the elusive ICC trophy having evaded the Kiwis to date, the veteran pacer is confident that the experience the Kiwis possess will drag the side over the line come the WTC Final.
“We know that it's going to be a tough week. Having a number of the guys that have been very close to winning an ICC event in the side, we have the experience of playing in the finals," he said.
"We've played two Tests against England, which obviously has been pretty good for us. It's been a great preparation leading up to this Test final good number of guys that have had good performances throughout those two Test matches.
"A couple of good days training today and tomorrow. And as you know, we're all looking forward to what is the ultimate goal of this tour.”