Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding said India have a lot of variety in their bowling attack and that will give them an edge over New Zealand irrespective of the conditions in the World Test Championship final, which will be played in Southampton from June 18.
Indian fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur have all done well in the longest format of the game, but Holding feels India could play both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the finale if the conditions permit.
"Obviously, conditions will play a role. But the bowling attack India have, it will help them even if conditions remain bright. And if it’s sunny throughout, they can even afford to play two spinners. They have that advantage," Holding, an integral part of the fearsome West Indies pace quartet of the 1970s and 80s, told The Telegraph (India).
"Even if conditions are damp, I still think India will include one spinner, which could be Ashwin as he can contribute well with his batting too. The pitch there (at the Ageas Bowl) does offer turn for spinners, which will be to India’s liking."
Another reason why Holding thinks India will start as favourites is because of what they achieved in Australia without their skipper and ace batsman Virat Kohli. "Kohli’s someone who always wants to get runs, but even when he’s not scoring, India are still winning Test matches. He wasn’t there for three matches in Australia, yet India won the series. So I don’t think India should be too worried about him."
Comparing Kohli and Kane Williamson, Holding said: "I would say both Kohli and Kane are right up there when it comes to style and entertainment. Having said that, style and entertainment are not everything as productivity also counts. That way, Steve Smith plays a vital role as he can produce the runs. So is Joe Root.
"A calmer captain can help his teammates stay more relaxed on the field. As a result, they can see to it that they aren’t too tense. At the same time, though, an expressive/animated captain could be required to lift the spirits of his team, especially during tough and critical situations."