Aakash Chopra slams ICC format ahead of WTC final

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra has criticized the format for the World Test Championship (WTC) final, which will be played between India and New Zealand in Southampton, starting Friday. According to Chopra, deciding the winner of a two-year-long tournament on the basis of a one-off Test is highly unfair.

Earlier, Indian head coach Ravi Shastri had also batted for the WTC final to be a best-of-three affair. However, the ICC response stated that it was not a realistic option considering the packed cricketing calendar.

In a YouTube chat with Pakistan cricketer Kamran Akmal, Chopra slammed the ICC over the current WTC format. He opined:

“After two years of hard work, you play one Test in another country to decide the winner of the World Test Championship (WTC). I cannot understand this format. If you want to organize a WTC final in another country, at least have a best-of-three format.”

Chopra wants the final to be a best-of-three affair.

“In Australia, even the Benson & Hedges series, which was just a tri-series, used to have three finals. Here after two years, there is one final to decide the winner. And if there is a draw, which is quite possible, since there is a chance of rain in England, they we will have joint winners or two champions. I am not convinced with this. Hopefully, the ICC will change the format next time.”

Chopra suggested that, in the case of a draw, declaring the team which finished on top of the WTC points would be a fairer option. He added:

“Instead of having joint winners, ICC could have declared the team that was No. 1 in the points table as winner. India were on top so they would win in that case, but even if New Zealand were the side with most points, they would have been deserving winners.”

The former cricketer also expressed reservations over the use of reserve day for the WTC final, which will come into play only to make up for lost overs. Chopra questioned:

“What if, on the last day, one side needs 45 runs to win and the opposition needs two wickets? Shouldn’t the reserve day be used to complete the match even if the overs have been completed? If we can have a result, they why not? It’s the WTC final after all.”

Fact that Neil Wagner may not play WTC final proof of Kiwis’ fast bowling riches: Aakash Chopra

Chopra lauded New Zealand for putting together a strong team despite the lack of resources. The Black Caps reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings following their victory over England in Edgbaston. Praising New Zealand’s resolve and culture, Chopra said:

“New Zealand is a small country, so they lack a bit of depth, but their current set of players is really good. If you look at their fast bowling strength, Tim Southee did not play in the second Test against England. But, he wasn’t missed. Matt Henry played there, but he might not make the WTC final playing XI.”

Chopra has praised New Zealand’s team spirit.

“Neil Wagner has claimed so many wickets over the last two years, but even he might not make the WTC final playing XI. Their batsmen are not flamboyant or attractive, but they play well within their limitations. Their culture is really good. They play for each other.”

New Zealand on Tuesday named their 15-member squad for the WTC final. All-rounder Mitchell Santner was the big name missing, with Ajaz Patel getting the nod ahead of him.

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