Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar believes a lack of match practice means even in-form players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma could struggle in the World Test Championship final.
India reached England on Thursday and headed into a three-day quarantine in Southampton, the venue for the eagerly-awaited match from June 18. Its opponent New Zealand, on the other hand, is engaged in a two-Test series against England, the first of which finishes on Sunday.
Vengsarkar, a veteran of 116 Tests and a former chief selector, said Kohli and Rohit were in good form but lack of competitive time in the middle might affect their performance at least in the tour-opening WTC final.
“Well, he (Kohli) has been around for a long time. He (Kohli) is one of the best batsmen in world cricket at the moment. Players like Virat or Rohit Sharma, they are world-class players, they take a lot of pride in their performance and pride in winning matches for India.
“It is a good thing and both are in very good form. But having said that, I think lack of match practice may hurt them in the first Test match,” Vengsarkar, the former chairman of selectors, told PTI on Sunday.
India the better team
Vengsarkar said New Zealand could have a slight advantage as it was already in the zone.
Dilip Vengsarkar…”India should have played at least two-three games before the [WTC final] to get acclimatised to the conditions.” – THULASI KAKKAT (FILE)
“India is a better team and in great form. The advantage with New Zealand – it is a low-profile team – is that they are getting to play two Test matches before the Test match (World Test Championship final). It is a slight advantage to New Zealand… because they have already played two Test matches before they start (the WTC final). They are acclimatised to the conditions,” he said.
“What I feel is that India should have played at least two-three games before the Test match (WTC), to get acclimatised to the conditions.”
The former captain feels that even the bowlers should have got some practice before the game. “It is advisable to play matches and spend time in the middle, both for batsmen as well as for bowlers. A match-practice is ultimate, you may have net practice, you know a match stimulation, but playing a match in the middle and spending time in the middle always helps, when you play the big game,” he said.
Kohli, during the pre-departure press conference ahead of the WTC final and subsequent five-Test series against host England, had said that lack of practice wasn’t such an issue as almost all the players in the side had the experience of playing in the U.K.
“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,” he said.