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WTC final: India hope to tide over absence of warm-up games | Cricket News – Times of India

June 15, 2021

The WTC final will be New Zealand’s third Test on the trot this past month on English soil, and the performance against England in Edgbaston means the Black Caps have had the best sort of preparation heading into a key game: a chest-thumping win and ample Test match time, both of which have been denied to India.
Apprehension has been quietly brewing over whether India’s cricketers will be a bit undercooked in the key game, and batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara confirmed as much on Tuesday. Holing up in hotel rooms and playing an inter-squad warm-up practice game is no match for the sort of preparation New Zealand have had, although India will take it in these tough times, said a typically stoic Pujara.

“The preparation is a disadvantage but it is something we can’t control. Maybe a few extra days would have helped,” Pujara said, “These are challenging times because of the pandemic. You can’t have the luxury of extra preparation.”
The last few weeks have been anything but hectic for India’s usually schedule-weary cricketers. Two weeks in quarantine in Mumbai, arrival in the UK, more quarantine sprinkled with a few fitness sessions and a practice game. Add a fresh Southampton pitch, a few bowlers coming back from extended injury-enforced absence and the long match-practice hiatus on English soil can start to seem worrying.

Pujara said, “The younger players… when we started the practice sessions they were finding it a little difficult, but I’ve seen the improvement from Day 1 to Day 8-9. They are disciplined enough to keep learning in England. Their role will be very important.”
India-New Zealand ties are marked by rare pleasantries, even on the points of disagreement, and star player Ross Taylor and head coach Gary Stead both took pains to politely point out how the issue wouldn’t matter at all for India.

First, though, Taylor rubbed it in a bit. “It is an ideal preparation (for us). Can’t think of anything better. But India have kept the bar high for a long period of time. They will be tough opposition. They’ve spent more time in Southampton than us.” Stead said, “The advantage for India is that they have played the IPL.”
Will that count in a Test in England, though? Pujara just seemed happy all the bowlers were in shape. “The bowlers are the reason we have reached this final. It is important for them to get used to the workload. There was a centre wicket where there was match simulation.”
Once the Test begins, India will be hoping the simulation will be enough.

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