WTC final should ideally be best of three: Shastri

Indian men’s cricket team coach Ravi Shastri on Wednesday called for a best-of-three final instead of a one-off match to decide the World Test Championship (WTC) winner, ahead of the final against New Zealand beginning on June 18 in Southampton.

“Ideally, in the long run if they want to pursue with the Test championship, a best-of-three final would be ideal — a three-match final as culmination of two and a half years of cricket around the globe. Best of three would have been ideal,” said Shastri in a media interaction on the eve of the team’s departure for England.

India skipper Virat Kohli, on the other hand, said that the WTC final still holds a lot of value despite being one-off since it is first of its kind and is the culmination of last few years of hard work.

“It holds a lot of value, this being the first of its kind and in the toughest format. All of us take a lot of pride in playing Test cricket and the way we have progressed as a side. It (WTC final) is an example of what Test cricket means to us,” said Kohli.

“So all of us who have been part of the Test side for many years, this is like an accumulation of all the hard work for not just the duration of [two years of] WTC but of the last five-six years since the time we started coming up the ranks and building as a side. We are just very, very happy to have the opportunity to play the final,” added the India No. 4 Test batsman.

Shastri, a former India captain, called it the biggest match India will play, if not the biggest ever.

“See, it is the first time. When you look at that and the magnitude it will be played at, I think this is the biggest if not the biggest ever. It is the toughest form of the game which tests you. It has not happened over three days or three months. It has happened over two years where teams have played each other around the world and earned their stripes,” he said.

The 59-year-old former all-rounder said the current Indian team’s development hasn’t happened overnight. He pointed out that the team has learned how to win from difficult positions.

“The guys have earned their stripes. This is not a team that has suddenly blossomed overnight. Like Virat said, five-six years of being No. 1 and when you start being on top, playing cricket at the highest level and competing against the best, you have the ability to pull yourself out of tough situations,” added Shastri.

“As you have seen time and time again. Not just Australia. In last two years, there have been many times when this side has pulled itself off from big problems and gone on to win series. [Playing the] final is a great victory for the boys really,” said the former player who coached India to two successive Test series wins in Australia, in 2018-19 and 2020-21.