Mumbai: In an exclusive interaction with the Free Press Journal, former Indian cricketer Nilesh Kulkarni talked about India's team combination, English conditions, and more.
Q. Should we expect a green-top in Southampton for the WTC final?
A: More than pitch we should look at the conditions in England. As they say, the 'W' you need to worry about in England is the 'weather.' If it is overcast, the ball is going to swing. However, I think that India is well-equipped in all departments, the composition of the team looks incredible. The thing which can go in New Zealand's favor is that they have had two Test matches prior to the final and the conditions in New Zealand are fairly similar to England.
Q. India lost the Test series to New Zealand last time the sides met, is it going to affect India's mindset?
A: I don't think so. It happened a while back and since then, India is riding high on confidence. They defeated the Aussies Down Under after that and these players are professionals, they have learned to leave things behind to focus on what is to come.
Q. Is Ashwin going to feature in the final?
A: I think both Ashwin and Jadeja can feature in the game. The pitch in Southampton generally favors the spinners. If it is an absolute green-top then India might go for Shardul or Siraj. Siraj has actually surpassed all expectations. The problem of plenty is a good one to have for India. With Bumrah, Shami and Ishant fit, India has a lot of good players to choose from. Moreover, with so many left handers in the Kiwi side, Ashwin might get to be the only spinner in the playing XI if conditions are overwhelmingly in favour of pacers.
Q. Is Devon Conway a threat for the Indian bowling line-up?
A: Indians bowlers haven't bowled to him yet but to analyse his batting style, all the videos would have been carefully looked at by the Indians. Ishant and Bumrah will create problems for Conway as they can swing the ball away from the left handers. Whereas for me, the key player is Williamson. If the Indian bowlers can get him early, we will have a great chance of winning the first ever World Test Championship.
Q. Can India bring the trophy home?
Both the teams have got some extremely talented players who can make a difference on the big stage. However, after analysing the strengths and weaknesses of both the sides, I can say that it is 51 precent in India's favour.