Having ruled the Test rankings for close to 2 years, India’s 2019-21 WTC campaign ended on a bitter note. The Men in Blue suffered an 8-wicket defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the final. And with that, the Blackcaps also quashed India’s hopes of winning an ICC title.
New Zealand perhaps has been India’s biggest nemesis when it comes to ICC trophies. It was New Zealand who beat India in the hurt-crushing 2019 World Cup semi-final. New Zealand put a stop to India’s winning streak in their World Cup Championship campaign. Once again, it’s New Zealand that came in the way of India’s ICC title ambitions.
Nevertheless, it’s now time for the team to forget the demons of the past and concentrate on the new WTC cycle that will be played from July 2021 to 2023.
The International Cricket Council has announced the schedule for the second edition of the World Test Championship, beginning with a five-match Test series between India and England to be held from August 4.
According to India’s 2021-23 Future tours programs, India will play as many as 6 series, comprising of three home and three away tours.
India tour of England, 2021
August 4-8: England vs India, First Test, Trent Bridge
August 12-16: England vs India, Second Test, Lord’s
August 25-29: England vs India, Third Test, Headingley
September 2-6: England vs India, Fourth Test, Kennington Oval
September 10-14: England vs India, Fifth Test, Old Trafford
After the England series, New Zealand will tour India for a two-match Test series, starting in November. The complete schedule of the series is yet to be announced. India will then lock horns with South Africa for a three-match Test series, scheduled to take place between December 2021 and January 2022 in South Africa.
India will play their second home series under World Test Championship against Sri Lanka in early 2022. After the Sri Lanka Tests, India will welcome Australia for a four-match Border Gavaskar series, scheduled in the second half of 2022. India’s will mark the end of their World Test Championship campaign with a two-match Test series against Bangladesh.
India vs England (Away) - 5 Tests India vs New Zealand (Home) - 2 Tests
India vs South Africa (Away) - 3 Tests
India vs Sri Lanka (Home) - 3 Tests India vs Australia (Home) - 4 Tests India vs Bangladesh (Away) - 2 Tests
Cheteshwar Pujara in firing line; KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari to fill a place
In the post-match presentation of the WTC Final, Virat Kohli stated that the Indian team will introspect the reasons for their loss in the final and will make changes accordingly. Kohli differentiated between India’s ODI and Test team. He opined that the ODI side has a lot more depth in the squad and are filled with confident players. The Indian captain believes the same needs to be implemented in the Test set-up as well.
According to the reports going around, "Indian Team Management is willing to give more responsibilities to younger players in tests especially in middle order. Cheteshwar Pujara is likely to be replaced by KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari. That means, Virat Kohli has to move at no. 3 to give depth to the batting order and give up his no. 4 position for managing the balance. This decision is come in awake of Chesteshwar Pujara's performance over the years. His last hundred for India came 30 innings back in Australia and his low strike has also been considered as a cause of concern."
Jasprit Bumrah was also off-colour in the WTC Final as he went wicketless in both the innings of the game. Bumrah got out on duck as well in both the innings and with the ball in hand, his figures read 0/57 and 0/35 in respective innings.
It remains to be seen if we could see any changes being made in the Test XI ahead of the England series.