WTC Final: Lack of match practice might hurt India against New Zealand, says Dilip Vengsarkar

Written by Abhishek Patil

It has been 14 years since an Indian team won a Test series in England. In the last three outings, England has defeated India comprehensively. The hosts have won the Pataudi Trophy by 4-0 in 2011, 3-1 in 2014, and 4-1 in 2018. However, in this tour of the UK, before the five-match Test series against England, the Indian team will lock horns with New Zealand in the much-awaited World Test Championship (WTC).

Dilip Vengsarkar, a veteran of 116 Test matches, believes that the lack of match practice before going into the WTC final might hurt India.

“Lack of match practice might hurt them in the WTC final; that is what I feel,” Vengsarkar told IndiaToday.In.

The former chairman of selectors said that playing a couple of practice matches in places like England and New Zealand is always beneficial.

Citing the example of India’s historic triumph in Australia, the 65-year-old said: “if I remember correctly, India played a couple of practice matches before the series. Despite the 36 all out in Adelaide and a series of injuries, India won the series. The red ball players were accustomed to the conditions before going into the Test series.”

“It was a fantastic achievement, and the team showed a brilliant fighting spirit. The Australian tour also showed the world the kind of depth in talent Indian cricket possesses,” added Vengsarkar.

However, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, during the pre-departure press conference ahead of the WTC final and subsequent five-Test series against hosts England, had said that lack of practice wasn’t such an issue as almost all the players in the side have experience of playing in England.

“In the past, we have landed in places three days prior even in a proper schedule and have had a hell of series and hell of competition, so it is all in the head,” Kohli had said.

On the contrary, Dilip Vengsarkar feels that there is no substitute for match practice before going into a big match like the WTC final.

“It is always advisable to play matches and spend time in the middle. Match practice is ultimate; you may have net practice, you know, a match stimulation, but spending time in the middle always helps when you play the big game,” said Vengsarkar.

“Match practice is a must for the bowlers also as it helps them to understand what length one should bowl in England,” he added.

Vengsarkar, who has three centuries at Lord’s, feels that the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand could have a slight advantage since they are already in the zone competitively.

“India is a better team and in great form. The advantage with New Zealand, it is a low-profile team. The thing is that they are getting to play two Test matches before the WTC final. They will be used to the condition,” said Vengsarkar.

Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has also lamented India’s lack of match practice before the much-awaited WTC final. Speaking to Sports Tak, Yuvraj said: There are 8-10 practice sessions, but there’s no substitute for match-practice. It will be an even contest, but New Zealand will have an edge.”

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Abhishek Patil