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Taylor looks to make amends; ICC WTC rare chance for Pujara to play major final

International Cricket Council. Representational Photo: ICC

Dubai, June 15 (MNN) When New Zealand lost the ICC men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, Ross Taylor thought he might have missed his last chance at winning a major final.

Two years later, the Black Caps batsman is back in England, looking to make amends after the Super Over loss at Lord’s as New Zealand and India prepare to face off in the ICC World Test Championship final in Southampton, the ICC reports.

And the 37-year-old admits that had he come out on the right side of that dramatic finale, there is a very good chance he would have called it a day.

He said: “It was disappointing to have lost that match at Lord’s a couple of years ago. When you lose and you’re at the age that I was, you think that might be the last time I ever get to play a World Cup final, so it’s nice for me to be here.

“If we had won that game, I might have retired after that, so I’m glad that I didn’t and that I’m here today.

“I just think it’s really exciting to be here, the whole New Zealand side are really excited, it’s going to be a great occasion, playing against India. We’ve only been number one for a few weeks, they have been number one for five or six years so they are going to be a really hard opposition to play against, but we’re looking forward to that.”

While Taylor was considering retirement in 2019, one man who will be calling time on his Test career after the Final is New Zealand wicket-keeper BJ Watling.

The 35-year-old made his Test debut back in 2009 and is set to make his 75th and final appearance for New Zealand in the longest format of the game, earning high praise from his coach Gary Stead.

Stead said: “BJ is a fantastic player, a great team man. He’s turned himself into, I think, one of the best keeper-batsmen in the world over the past 10 years of him playing. Let’s also remember he was a manufactured keeper as such, it wasn’t his first thing to do. The way he’s developed himself and continued to look to get better over that period of time is pretty amazing.

“I don’t think we as a team will realise how much we’ll miss BJ in the dressing room and in the role he is in until he’s not there. He’s a quiet individual but when he speaks, people listen. He’s very popular among the whole team. He will be a sad loss for us but we want to celebrate in style hopefully, and send him out on the right note.”

For India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, a Test specialist, the ICC World Test Championship offers a rare opportunity to play in a major final.

And the 33-year-old is relishing the opportunity as India ramp up their preparations following an inter-squad warm-up match.

He said: “Personally, it means a lot to me. Playing one format, the Test format, this is the first time we are playing the World Test Championship finals. As a team we have worked over a period of time, you play so many series at home and away from home. To be at the top requires a lot of hard work.

“It’s like playing a World Cup final in any format. This is the first time in the Test format, but playing an ODI World Cup final or even a T20 World Cup final, it’s very similar to that. Personally, I’m looking forward to it, and as a team we are looking forward to it.

“It will be challenging but we have been through a lot of preparation recently. The time we have had here, in the last nine or 10 days, we have tried to use it to the fullest. As a team, we are very well-prepared. We have the experience, most of the guys have played in England in the past, so I think we are up for the challenge, so we are very confident.”

The squads:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Md Siraj, Umesh Yadav.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.

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