Rain delays start of World Test Championship final

This fixture, worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up, represents the culmination of a two-year programme of series to crown a champion team in men's Test cricket, with India and New Zealand topping the qualifying table.

Rain has delayed play at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, England during the first session of the  World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand on 18 June 2021. Picture: @ICC/Twitter

SOUTHAMPTON - Rain delayed the scheduled start of the inaugural World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand at Southampton on Friday, with no play before lunch on the opening day.

The toss should have taken place at 10:00 am local time (0900 GMT), with the match getting underway 30 minutes later, but heavy overnight and early morning rain meant the pitch and square at the Hampshire Bowl remained fully covered as groundstaff began the lengthy process of clearing surface water off the outfield.

While a standard Test lasts a maximum of five days, this fixture can be extended into a sixth day should match referee Chris Broad decide that it is the only way to make-up time lost in the game to bad weather.

But former England batsman Broad won't be called on to make such a decision until the fifth day as the match could be over before then in any event.

This fixture, worth $1.6 million to the winners and $800,000 to the runners-up, represents the culmination of a two-year programme of series to crown a champion team in men's Test cricket, with India and New Zealand topping the qualifying table.

India captain Virat Kohli, however, questioned whether a one-off game could decide the world's best Test side by saying Thursday: "If you're talking about Test cricket and deciding who is the best team in the world on one game over a period of five days, that is not the reality of the truth.

"It is not going to reflect anything for people who really understand the game and who know exactly what has gone on over the last four or five years and how the teams have fared."

The star batsman added: "For me, this is another Test match that has to be played."

India named their team on Thursday, with the pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami as well as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja all included in the same Test XI for the first time.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, recovered from an elbow injury that saw him miss the Blackcaps' series-clinching win over England at Edgbaston last week, said he would delay announcing his side until the toss.

India too could yet change their side, as teams don't have to be confirmed until the toss takes place.

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