India will be appearing in the inaugural World Test Championship final from June 18-22 when they take on New Zealand in Southampton. While India finished on top of the WTC table, The 'BlackCaps' were the only outfit that defeated India in a Test series throughout the tournament.
India toured New Zealand last year and faced a 2-0 defeat in the Test series.
And so, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar believes that facing Kane Williamson's men in England, which offers similar playing conditions to those of New Zealand, will be a "much bigger hurdle for India to cross."
“If the World Test Championship final is held in India, New Zealand would be sent packing by the hosts inside three days, but that it’s going to be played in England, and that too in the first half of the English summer, makes NZ a much bigger hurdle for India to cross to win the WTC,” Manjrekar wrote in a column for Hindustan Times.
He further said that even as India defeated Australia in Australia, the pitches in New Zealand are quite unlike their neighbours, adding that the BlackCaps remain India's "real discomfort zone."
“When in England, all the old gospels of batting resurface—play close to the body, leave that ball outside off, etc. Cricketing conditions in England are similar to those in NZ. Even if Australia is a neighboring country, pitches in NZ are nothing like in Australia, where the ball does not swing and seam much and there is just pace and bounce. To India’s credit, their batsmen have become pretty good of late at handling pace and bounce and hence the improving record in Australia," wrote the former player.
"But NZ, well, that’s India’s real ‘discomfort zone’ as was evident in how India lost the last Test series there. The highest score India could get in the three Tests was 242. To be fair, NZ themselves struggled but they were a little better than India in batting and a great distance better in bowling."