New Zealand bowling coach Shane Jurgensen believes Trent Boult and Co. will have to be at the top of their game when they come face to face against Rishabh Pant in the inaugural World Test Championship final, to be played in Southampton from June 18-22.
The wicketkeeper-batsman from India has been in marvellous form in the longest format of the game. Pant managed scores of 29, 36, 97, 23 and 89* in Australia and played a massive role in helping India win the series 2-1. The 23-year-old then slammed 270 runs at an average of 54 in four Tests against England in India. He smashed a century and two fifties in the series, and also got a hundred when India last played a Test series in England in 2018.
"Well, Pant is an extremely dangerous player who can change the game on its head. We saw how well he did it against Australia and England. He’s extremely positive-minded, but with that comes potentially the opportunity to take his wicket," Jurgensen, in his second stint as the Black Caps’ bowling coach, told The Telegraph (India).
"Our bowlers need to execute well, stay calm and make it as difficult as possible for Pant to score runs. He’s certainly a free-flowing batsman and a tough one to stop, which we should keep in mind."
New Zealand have senior pacers like Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner in their squad but Jurgensen has got his eye on Kyle Jamieson who recently played with Indian captain Virat Kohli in IPL 2021. "Well, Kyle has played with Virat at RCB and no doubt they would have exchanged some comments potentially leading into this final. So interesting times ahead," he said.
"I’m sure it’s going to be great to watch Kyle. His Test career too has been outstanding so far. He has got a great opportunity to prepare really well in the lead-up to the final, beginning with the two Tests versus England."
Jurgensen said that New Zealand will also be wary of India's bowling attack. "It’s a challenging bowling attack that India have. A lot of options are available for them. It’ll be a very, very stiff challenge we could face from (Jasprit) Bumrah to Shardul (Thakur), who’s an all-rounder and has done well in Australia too.
"There’s Mohammed Siraj and even their spinners, who can spin it both ways. It’s a group of formidable, outstanding Test bowlers."
New Zealand are scheduled to play two Tests against England before the WTC final. The first match will be played at Lord's from June 2, while the second Test will take place at Edgbaston from June 10.