New Zealand reached the pinnacle of the Test format after clinching victory against India in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final on June 23. Deservedly, they’re being lauded by the cricketing fraternity for their excellent display. Former New Zealand great Richard Hadlee hailed the team as the ‘best in their history.’
The Black Caps’ dominance in red-ball cricket has been praiseworthy. They had a stellar run in the championship, blanking India, Pakistan, and West Indies by a 2-0 margin at home. Their only defeat came in Australia where they lost 0-3. Considering how strong they’ve been at home, Aakash Chopra picked a World Test XI that he thought was capable of fighting New Zealand at home.
Joe Root is the captain of Aakash Chopra’s Test team against New Zealand
India’s Rohit Sharma and Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne were chosen by Aakash as his openers, while the latest run-machine Marnus Labuschagne was drafted in at number three. The surprise, however, came at the next slot. Skipping Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, Aakash Chopra picked Joe Root as his captain and batsman at number four.
“At No.4, I have kept Joe Root. Yes, Kohli and Babar Azam, you are not there. He has scored 1660 runs, of course, they play more matches but he has a lot of runs, which includes double centuries in India, Sri Lanka. If an English batsman plays in Asia and scores a lot of runs, it will always be counted for much more than what it is,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
Next up was Australia’s Steve Smith, followed by all-rounder Ben Stokes. The wicket-keeper slot was reserved for Rishabh Pant owing to his outstanding performance in Australia.
“At No.6, I have got Ben Stokes. No Jason Holder or Ravindra Jadeja. You will need Ben Stokes’ bowling for sure. He has scored 1334 runs, almost the same as Steve Smith. It has come at an average of 46 and he has taken wickets as well,” he said.
The bowling attack picked by Aakash Chopra consisted of the top 3 highest wicket-takers in the WTC viz. Ravichandran Ashwin, Pat Cummins, and Stuart Broad. He was conflicted between Mohammad Shami, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Anrich Nortje for the No.11 role. Eventually, he settled for Hazlewood considering he picked the most five-wicket hauls (3) among the above-mentioned.
Aakash Chopra’s World Test XI to fight against New Zealand at home: Rohit Sharma, Dimuth Karunaratne, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root (c), Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Pat Cummins, Stuart Broad, Josh Hazlewood