Kane Williamson insists New Zealand will not be favourites when they start the defence of their World Test Championship title against an under-strength India side in Kanpur on Thursday.

The Black Caps beat India by eight wickets in the inaugural World Test Championship at the Ageas Bowl in June, so India will be out for revenge in the two-match series on home soil.

Virat Kohli has been rested for the first Test, so Ajinkya Rahane takes charge of a team that will not include Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Rishabh Pant.

Rohit, Bumrah, Shami and Pant have been given a rest for both games, while Rahul misses out due to a thigh strain.

India have plenty of strength in depth, though, and you have to go back 33 years for the last time they lost a home match against the Black Caps in the longest format.

New Zealand captain Williamson sat out India's 3-0 T20I whitewash of the tourists, which came so soon after his side had been beaten by Australia in the T20 World Cup final in Dubai.

The prolific batsman knows the Black Caps face a huge challenge, particularly without the opportunity to play any warm-up games.

He said: "I don't think we are favourites. One of the key strengths of Indian cricket is its depth. India has great knowledge of their own conditions, we know the challenge is a big one."

Williamson added: "As we have seen in this part of the world, the spin component has been very large and it has played a big role in changing the complexion of the game.

"I am sure throughout the whole series, the spin component will be a factor and it will be no different in Kanpur. It will be all about assessing the conditions as quickly as possible."

 

Opportunity knocks for Iyer

Shreyas Iyer will make his debut after Rahul was ruled out and is set to come into the middle order, with Shubman Gill to open with Mayank Agarwal.

The 26-year-old right-hander averages 52.18 in first-class cricket, scoring 12 centuries and boasting a strike-rate of 81.54.

Rahane hinted that India may play three spinners, stating: "We are not too sure of the combination. But in India you generally get spin-friendly wickets, the ball generally keeps slightly low and slow.

"We expect that but not too sure how the wicket will play. We will have to wait until tomorrow and assess from there."

Refreshed Jamieson closing in on half-century

Kyle Jamieson joined Williamson in missing the T20I series as the Black Caps managed his workload.

The paceman has made an outstanding start to his Test career and was man of the match when New Zealand beat India in the final in Southampton, having claimed match figures of 7-61.

Four wickets shy of 50 in the longest format, it would be a surprise if Jamieson does not come straight back into the team, particularly with Trent Boult not involved in the series.

New Zealand, who are unbeaten in nine Tests and have never gone 10 without defeat, must decide who replaces Devon Conway (broken hand) at the top of the order, with Will Young appearing set to get the nod.

Kane Williamson conceded Australia did not give New Zealand any leeway as Aaron Finch's side cruised to their maiden T20 World Cup crown.

Williamson, who was dropped on 21 by Josh Hazlewood, struck 85 from just 45 balls to guide his side to 172-4 from their 20-over allocation in Sunday's final.

That was the joint-highest score in a T20 World Cup final – along with Marlon Samuels' knock against England in 2016 – and the fastest-half century ever scored in the showpiece of the competition.

However, Williamson held those records for a short time as Mitchell Marsh, who blasted his first ball over square leg for six, delivered a brutal unbeaten 77 from 50 deliveries to see Australia over the line.

After Australia completed their second magnificent run chase in four days, following victory over Pakistan in the semi-final, Williamson admitted New Zealand's trans-Tasman rivals never gave his side a chance in the chase.

"We were trying to get a bit of a platform and the surface was holding a platform," Williamson said during his post-match interview on the field.

"We got what we thought at the halfway stage was a good total, but it was chased superbly by Australia.

"We made every effort to get a good total. Guys came out and committed to their plans. We weren't far away but having said that, credit to the way Australia chased that total. They did not give us an inch.

"I'm really proud of our teams efforts throughout the tournaments. We came here and gave it our best shot, but it wasn't good enough tonight."

Trent Boult, whose figures of 2-18 proved in vain, provided New Zealand with the briefest glimmer of hope when he bowled David Warner (53) in the 13th over.

But Williamson appreciated that Australia were a class above as he looked back on yet another final loss, previously losing to England in the 2019 World Cup.

"Australia are a team full of amazing players," he added. "Today they really turned it on.

"We finish this campaign and such is life in the international schedule is you move your focus. No doubt we're feeling this one a little bit.

"We had high hopes coming into the game. It's never nice. You sign up to these sort of things. It's just a shame we couldn't get the job done tonight."

Mitch Marsh blasted a record-breaking 31-ball half-century as Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets to win their first T20 World Cup title.

Kane Williamson made a majestic 85 from only 48 balls after being dropped by Josh Hazlewood on 21 as New Zealand posted 172-4, after being put in by Aaron Finch in the trans-Tasman showdown at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

That was the joint-highest score in a T20 World Cup final, with Marlon Samuels having been 15 short of a hundred in West Indies' victory over England five years ago. It was also the fastest half-century ever scored in the final of the competition for a short time, until Marsh's heroics.

Williamson reached his fifty from 32 deliveries as Mitchell Starc endured a nightmare, the left-arm quick's four wicketless overs going for 60. The outstanding Hazlewood was the pick of the Australia bowlers with brilliant figures of 3-16.

Australia produced another magnificent run chase on the back of a stunning semi-final win over Pakistan, Warner and Marsh putting on 92 for the second wicket.

Warner made a superb 53 from 38 balls and Marsh was unbeaten on 77 from 50 deliveries as Australia were crowned champions with seven deliveries to spare.

Marsh raced away to his half-century, taking spinner Ish Sodhi (0-40 in three overs) apart as Trent Boult's brilliant figures of 2-18 were in vain.

All-rounder Marsh had not fully realised his potential in an injury-hit career but showed he can be a world-class performer on a historic Sunday night for Australia as New Zealand endured heartbreak in their first T20 World Cup final.

World-class Williamson the man for the big occasion

New Zealand were only 32-1 at the end of the powerplay, with Daryl Mitchell caught behind off Hazlewood, but Williamson shifted through the gears in a masterful innings with sweet timing and power.

The skipper was put down by Hazlewood in the deep in the 11th over from the expensive Starc before hitting Maxwell for back-to-back sixes to reach his half-century - the first of those with one hand coming off the bat as he hoisted the ball into the stand.

Martin Guptill (28) fell to star spinner Adam Zampa (1-26) after being dropped by Matthew Wade on 10, but the boundaries continued to flow for Williamson, who hit three sixes and 10 fours before holing out off Hazlewood.

 

Marsh and Warner make light work of run chase

Boult got an early breakthrough when he sent Finch on his way, but Warner and Marsh swung the game in Australia's favour with clean striking and great running between the wickets.

Marsh struck the first ball he faced from Adam Milne for six, while Warner looked increasingly ominous, taking a liking to the spin of Sodhi and hitting Jimmy Neesham for a huge six to reach a 34-ball half-century.

The excellent Boult returned to clean up Warner and the left-arm paceman dropped a tough chance to dismiss Marsh when Australia were almost home.

Glenn Maxwell (28 not out) struck Tim Southee for four to win it, with Marsh still unbeaten after striking four sixes and another six boundaries in a stunning innings.

Kane Williamson is excited by the prospect of New Zealand pulling off a dream double when they face Australia in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday.

The Black Caps beat India to win the inaugural World Test Championship in June and they will contest a third consecutive ICC final at Dubai International Stadium this weekend.

New Zealand had never reached a T20 World Cup final before defeating England with a magnificent run chase on Wednesday and captain Williamson is urging his side to rise to the occasion when they do battle with their trans-Tasman rivals.

He said in a press conference on Saturday: "It'd be some achievement [to do the double],

"But where it stands at the moment is there's a game of cricket to play and for us it's focusing on that and focusing on our cricket and looking to go out there and implement the things that are important to us.

"These sort of events are of focus in the calendar and it's a really exciting opportunity to be here now and looking forward to the match tomorrow."

Australia also chased down a big total to upset Pakistan and moved into their second World Cup final in the shortest format, having lost to England in 2010.

Skipper Aaron Finch says Australia always had the belief they could defy the odds and go all the way to the final.

He said: "It wasn't unexpected. We came here with a clear plan to try and win this tournament. We always felt that we have the depth and quality to do that.

"A lot of people had written us off from the start, so it has been really impressive the way we have gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well and had match-defining performances at some point, the guys are up and about for tomorrow."

 

Conway blow hands Seifert unexpected chance

It was a memorable day for New Zealand when they knocked England out in midweek, but one of mixed emotions for Devon Conway.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 46 before he was stumped giving Liam Livingstone the charge and he reacted by punching his bat, inflicting further pain on himself by breaking his hand.

Conway will miss the final as a result of that furious response to his dismissal, so Tim Seifert comes into the side.

Seifert has big shoes to fill, as Conway has been a revelation in his short international career so far. The left-hander scored 129 runs at an average of 32.25 in his first T20 World Cup.

Stand-in keeper Seifert made only eight in his only appearance of this tournament against Pakistan after coming in at seven in the order. He averages 24.24 in 33 T20I knocks.

 

Warner silencing the doubters

Questions were raised about David Warner's place in the Australia side ahead of the tournament after he was dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad during the Indian Premier League.

The opener has shown his class in the United Arab Emirates, making 236 runs from six innings at an average of 47.20 

Only Matthew Hayden (265 in 2007) and Shane Watson (249 in 2012) have scored more for Australia in a single edition of a T20 World Cup.

Warner’s 35 boundaries in the campaign (28 fours, 7 sixes) are the joint-most by any player in the tournament (level with Mohammad Rizwan and Jos Buttler).

Australia showed the strength of their batting line-up in a five-wicket win over a Pakistan side that had won every match to cruise into the last four, Matthew Wade blasting a brilliant 41 not out off 17 balls and Marcus Stoinis making an unbeaten 40 after Warner's rapid 49.

Kane Williamson hailed an "outstanding" innings from Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham's fireworks after New Zealand beat England in another thriller to reach their first T20 World Cup final.

The Black Caps were up against it when they needed 57 to win off the final four overs at Zayed Cricket Stadium after England had posted 166-4 in the first semi-final on Wednesday.

But opener Mitchell sealed a dramatic five-wicket win with an over to spare, finishing unbeaten on 72 from 47 balls after Neesham had blasted 27 from just 11 deliveries in Abu Dhabi.

The game had swung in England's favour when Liam Livingstone (2-22) conceded only three runs and dismissed Glenn Phillips in the 16th over, having also had Devon Conway (46) stumped.

Neesham then cut loose in a 17th over from Chris Jordan that went for 23 and although he fell to Adil Rashid, Mitchell finished off the job to set up a final against Pakistan or Australia in Dubai on Sunday.

New Zealand had been in big trouble on 13-2 after Chris Woakes dismissed Martin Guptill and Williamson, who was full of praise for Mitchell and Neesham.

The Black Caps skipper said during the post-match presentation: "We've played each other on a number of occasions, I knew it would be a great game of cricket, and really chuffed with the heart that was shown throughout that performance.

"It was outstanding from Mitchell at the top but cashing in on the match-ups [was vital]. His character stood out today, an incredible knock.

"T20 cricket is a game of small margins, depending on the surface, short side...can all be match-defining.

"We had wickets in hand, which was really important. Neesham came out and hit the ball hard and changed the momentum of the game. Ultimately the deciding factor."

Moeen Ali had top scored with 51 not out off 37 balls and Dawid Malan made 41 after Williamson won the toss and put England in.

Eoin Morgan says it would be a "hell of an achievement" for injury-hit England to beat New Zealand and reach the T20 World Cup final.

England and the Black Caps do battle at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday in a repeat of the 50-over World Cup final in 2019, when Morgan's side were crowned champions in the most dramatic fashion at Lord's.

Jason Roy has joined Tymal Mills on an injury list that already included Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Ben Stokes.

England have won three of their past four T20 World Cup matches against New Zealand, one of those coming in a semi-final five years ago.

Captain Morgan says it would be a huge feat if they could defeat Kane Williamson's side once again in Abu Dhabi to set up a showdown with Pakistan or Australia.

The batsman said: "I wouldn't say [England are] strong favourites. New Zealand have a full-strength squad, we've obviously been hampered with a lot of injuries throughout this tournament.

"I think of all the things we've done well throughout this tournament, probably the strongest point has been the resilience within our squad to be able to find a way to move forward and forge on.

"We're playing really good cricket, the guys are extremely excited about the challenge against New Zealand and potentially the opportunity that might follow that.

"You might only get to the final and lose but getting to the final would be a hell of an achievement. We can't wait."

 

Morgan refused to be drawn on who will replace Roy at the top of the order to partner Jos Buttler, with another bowler coming into the side being one of the options.

"Within the group we’ve made a decision, I'm not willing to share that, unfortunately, but also the balance of the side will be determined on how the wicket looks and how we match-up against the Black Caps," Morgan added.

"Replacing him with another bowler would mean that you have 28 genuine overs on the field and a lot of options. If you were to go with a batter, it would mean a like-for-like replacement.

"Depending if it's a really good batting wicket, predicting if it's going to be a really good batting wicket, we might need the extra bit of bowling. If it's not, you might need the extra bit of batting.

"We're lucky, we have guys who queue up and want to bat in that top three, which is great because they want to go head-to-head with the big-name players in the tournament and big-name bowlers in the opposition."

Black Caps skipper Williamson knows England have the strength in depth to replace Roy.

He said: "I suppose whenever there's an injury, someone else comes in and you're not to know who they are until the toss. But you try and prepare and plan as best you can and then when you go out there, you're sort of competing in the moment.

"And that all matters then. But Jason's a big player for England and has been playing really nicely and getting the team off to good starts along with Jos.

"But as I mentioned, the depth on the England side is one of their strengths and we'll try and plan accordingly to the best of our ability.

"But largely [we] want to focus on the sort of cricket that we want to play as a group and keep developing on that as we've been doing throughout this tournament."

Jason Roy led the way as Sunrisers Hyderabad claimed a shock four-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi.

Roy hit 44 as the Sunrisers, who sit bottom of the table with their play-off hopes already over, earned only their third win of a torrid Indian Premier League season at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Already assured of a play-off berth, RCB were aiming for a fourth successive victory that would strengthen their hopes of finishing in the top two.

Virat Kohli's side were set a target of 142 and headed into the final over needing 13, following knocks of 41 and 40 from Devdutt Padikkal and Glenn Maxwell respectively.

AB de Villiers, who finished on 19 not out, edged RCB closer to the total with a huge six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar's fourth ball of the final over to leave six required from the last two deliveries.

However, Kumar showed all of his experience to wrap up the victory, conceding just one run off his final two balls, as RCB fell narrowly short on 137-6.

Joy for Roy

The England opener made a top-scoring contribution for the Sunrisers, with a knock of 44 from 38 balls.

He and skipper Kane Williamson hit combined in a 70-run partnership in 9.4 overs to provide the platform for their side to build upon.


History for Patel

Despite the defeat, it was a historic day for Harshal Patel, who set a new record of most wickets by an Indian bowler in an IPL season as he surpassed Jasprit Bumrah's tally from the previous season (27).

The right-arm bowler claimed an impressive 3-33 as he dismissed Williamson, Wriddhiman Saha and Jason Holder.

That took Patel's tally in this season's IPL to 29; seven clear of nearest challenger Avesh Khan, who has impressed for the Delhi Capitals this term.

New Zealand claimed victory in the World Test Championship final as they chased down a fourth-innings target of 139 with eight wickets to spare at the Ageas Bowl.

Captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor combined in an unbroken 96-run stand as the Black Caps, so often the bridesmaids through the years, became the inaugural winners of the tournament in the final hour of play.

Rain had threatened to spoil the showpiece fixture in Southampton, but the addition by the International Cricket Council of a reserve day allowed for an absorbing conclusion to proceedings.

India had resumed in the morning on 64-2, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli at the crease looking to build on a precarious 32-run lead.

However, both overnight batsmen fell early in proceedings to the impressive Kyle Jamieson, Kohli caught behind for 13 before Pujara (15) fell soon after, leaving the score at 72-4 as New Zealand struck two huge blows.

It would have been even better had Tim Southee held onto a chance from Rishabh Pant when he was on just five, Jamieson the unfortunate bowler. The left-hander went on to top score with 41, a crucial knock in the circumstances.

Trent Boult dismissed Pant – caught superbly by Henry Nicholls having skied the ball high into the air – as he finished with figures of 3-39, also seeing off Ajinkya Rahane (15) and Ravindra Jadeja (16).

There were also two late wickets for Southee – who ended up with 4-48 in the innings – as India slipped from 142-5 to 170 all out.

Ravichandran Ashwin gave India a glimmer of hope when he removed both New Zealand openers, Tom Latham the first to go when stumped for nine before Devon Conway was trapped lbw having contributed 19.

Yet Williamson and Taylor, who finished 52 and 47 not out respectively, did not panic when coming together at 44-2, slowly building a partnership that would blossom with the finishing line in sight.

 

Standing tall on the biggest stage

Jamieson has been a revelation for the Black Caps in Test cricket. He finished with stunning match figures of 7-61 from 46 overs, of which 22 were maidens.

In total, 83 per cent of his deliveries were pitched outside off stump, the highest rate of any bowler for New Zealand. The plan worked too, as six of his seven wickets came from balls landing in that area.

Middling returns from big names

No Indian player managed to post a half-century. Pujara, Kohli and Rahane were crucial in helping their team qualify for the final, but their low returns in the game continued a recent trend.

Since the beginning of 2019, the trio have registered a combined total of six Test centuries. In the two years prior to that, however, they had 18 hundreds between them in the longest format.

The World Test Championship final remains delicately poised after India ended the penultimate day at the Ageas Bowl on 64-2, giving them a slender lead of 32 runs.

After Monday's play was washed out at a sodden Southampton, New Zealand finally moved on from 101-2 to post 249 in their first innings, captain Kane Williamson pointing the way with 49.

There were also useful runs from the lower order – Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee contributed 21 and 30 respectively – as the Black Caps managed to overhaul India's total of 217.

Trailing by 32 as they came out to bat for a second time, India lost opener Shubman Gill, trapped lbw by Southee for eight, before they had erased the deficit in the final session.

Rohit Sharma also fell to the same bowler for 30 in the closing stages of proceedings, leaving Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to see their side to the close. They will resume on 12 and eight respectively.

New Zealand will hope to make early inroads on the sixth and final day, which was added by the International Cricket Council as a provision for time being lost to bad weather.

Mohammed Shami helped restrict New Zealand's advantage with 4-76, including dismissing BJ Watling and Colin de Grandhomme as the Kiwis slipped to 162-6.

Yet the resolute Williamson remained, producing a crucial 177-ball knock that included six fours. His vigil finally came to an end when he was well caught by opposite number Kohli at a wide third slip off Ishant Sharma when one shy of a half-century.

Spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja wrapped up the innings, though New Zealand's wagging tail means they appear the more likely winners on Wednesday.


Go-slow approach sees Kane able to move up

During his battling knock, Williamson surpassed Stephen Fleming (7,172) to become New Zealand's second highest run-scorer in Test cricket on 7,178, only behind current team-mate Ross Taylor (7,517) on the list. The latter reached a personal milestone while making 11, bringing up 18,000 international runs across all formats.

Shami shines with leather but still comes up short

Despite Kohli giving him every opportunity, Shami was unable to register his sixth five-wicket haul in Tests. The pace bowler produced a beauty to dismiss Watling, bowling the wicketkeeper for just one as India sensed the opportunity to seize a first-innings lead.

Spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been named in India's side for the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl.

The Black Caps did not face a frontline spinner in a 1-0 Test series victory over England, but they will have to contend with two in Southampton.

Ashwin and Jadeja were named in a five-match bowling attack along with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah on the eve of an inaugural final that is due to start on Friday, but poor weather could result in an opening-day washout.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling are expected to be fit to return after missing the decisive second Test win over England at Edgbaston.

Watling will be playing in the final match of his professional career if he gets the nod to replace Tom Blundell.

Wednesday has been set aside as a reserve day in case a full five days cannot be completed and that may be required with rain and storms forecast.

New Zealand are top of the rankings and come into the game on a high after securing their first Test series win in England since 1999, hammering Joe Root's side by eight wickets early on day four.

They demonstrated their strength in depth by making six changes, with Matt Henry claiming the man of the match award after he was among the players to come into the side.

Skipper Williamson, who has been troubled by an elbow injury, is delighted with the strides his side have made and says there is more to come.

"There's been a lot of growth over a period of time so many challenges along the way every day but the team has bought into it and tried to move past those with a good attitude," the prolific batsman said.

"There is lot of hard work done over a long period of time to find ourselves here in the first final.

"It's exciting but for us it's just focusing on continuing that growth and trying to keep committing to the parts of our game that give us the best chance and that's where I know the guys will be focusing on. We are trying to look at the long game and try and improve all the time."

 

INDIA IN A QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE - KOHLI

Captain Virat Kohli says India will remain in a quest for excellence regardless of the outcome in the final.

He said: "For us as a team we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now. And we are going to continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game. We have no doubts whatsoever in our abilities and what we can do as a side.

"As an individual player, look, we won the 2011 World Cup which was a great moment for all of us. But cricket goes on. Just the way life goes on. And you have to treat failure and success the same way, and you have to treat the so-called outstandingly big moments pretty similar to the other moments as well.

"So, yes, it is an occasion that has to be enjoyed from our point of view, but it is not different for us or no more important for us than the first Test match that we played together as a young group of players back in the day when we were trying to come up the ranks. So, yes, the mindset remains the same."
 

BLACK CAPS SPOILT FOR CHOICE

New Zealand's bowlers tore through England in the second innings at Edgbaston, skittling them out for only 122 in another demonstration that the selectors are spoilt for choice.

Henry, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and India-born spinner Ajaz Patel did the damage as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson were among the players given a chance to put their feet up.

Pacemen Southee and Jamieson starred when New Zealand whitewashed India 2-0 last year.

Southee was named man of the match with match figures of 9-110 in the first Test at Basin Reserve and Jamieson picked up the award in the second match, taking 5-45 in the first innings. 

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The previous seven Tests matches between the two nations have seen each team pick up three wins (D1).
- India have lost each of their previous two matches at the venue against England, while this will be the Black Caps' first Test at the ground.
- Kohli's side have lost just one of their past seven Tests (W5, D1), the loss coming at home to England in February.
- No spinner has dismissed Williamson more times in Test cricket than Ashwin (five, also Pragyan Ojha). His false shot percentage of 21.9 per cent against Ashwin is his highest against any bowler he has faced a minimum of 150 balls.

Kane Williamson and BJ Watling are expected to be fit to play for New Zealand against India in the ICC World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.

Captain Williamson missed the second Test of the series with England due to an elbow issue, while a back injury stopped wicketkeeper Watling from playing in that game at Edgbaston.

However, the duo have both been included in a 15-man squad for the decider with India, which begins on Friday.

There is also a place for Ajaz Patel as the specialist spinner ahead of Mitchell Santner, while Colin de Grandhomme is the all-rounder and Will Young will provide batting cover. Tom Blundell - who took over behind the stumps in Birmingham - will be Watling's understudy.

Along with Santner, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra are the other players to miss out on selection.

"There's had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"We’ve gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl.

"Colin's been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon.

"Kane and BJ have certainly benefitted from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final."

Despite the absences of Williamson and Watling, a much-changed New Zealand side won the second Test against England, in the process securing a 1-0 series victory over their hosts.

The Black Caps are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the format, while India have lost just once in their previous seven Tests. In the past seven meetings between the countries, both have won three apiece to go along with a solitary draw.
 

New Zealand squad for ICC World Test Championship final: 

Kane Williamson (capt), 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

James Anderson is poised to make history when England attempt to maintain their perfect Test record against New Zealand at Edgbaston and seal a series win.

Anderson is set to become his country's most-capped Test player in Birmingham on Thursday, surpassing his close friend and former team-mate Alastair Cook's tally of 161.

England's leading Test wicket-taker is expected to get the nod to retain his place in the England attack following a drab draw at Lord's

The Black Caps were unable to force a victory on the final day of the first match in London, with Joe Root's side showing no intention of chasing down a target of 273 after Kane Williamson declared at lunch.

England have won all four Test matches against the Black Caps in Birmingham, but this will be the first time they have played at the venue since July 1999.

Victory for the tourists would be the perfect preparation for the ICC World Test Championship final against India at the Ageas Bowl.

The game has been overshadowed by off-field issues, with England fast bowler Ollie Robinson suspended pending an investigation into historic racist and sexist tweets he sent.

It then emerged on Monday that a second unnamed England player is under investigation for social media posts he made before turning 16.

With Robinson absent, Craig Overton or Olly Stone could come into the England team. Jack Leach is also hoping for a recall, while fellow spinner Dom Bess was added to the squad for a match that will see crowds of around 18,000 allowed in.

New Zealand, meanwhile, will be without captain Williamson.

He will sit out of the match as he tries to give a lingering elbow injury time to heal ahead of the World Test Championship Final against India next week, and Tom Latham will step up to lead the Black Caps.

ANDERSON REFLECTS ON TOUGH TEST START

"My first ball was a no-ball and there were a lot of nerves there," Anderson said when reminiscing about his first Test appearance, against Zimbabwe at Lord's in 2003. 

"I remember Nasser Hussain didn't have a fine leg for me and I went for quite a few runs.

"No disrespect to Zimbabwe but playing against teams like South Africa, Australia and India, once you put in performances against the top teams in the world, that's when you think you can perform at that level.

"It did take a few years and a few tours around the world to make me think I could do it."

Anderson finished his debut with figures of 5-73. His tally of 616 wickets heading into Thursday's match means he is the most successful fast bowler in history.

KANE OUT BUT LATHAM MORE THAN ABLE

"It is not an easy decision for Kane to have to miss a Test, but we think it is the right one," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"He's had an injection in his elbow to relieve the irritation he's been experiencing when he bats and a period of rest and rehabilitation will help maximise his recovery."

Williamson will be a big miss for the tourists, but Latham has plenty of experience. The opener averages 41.97 across 57 Tests, though he could not build on starts in the first Test as he scored 23 and 36.

Meanwhile, paceman Trent Boult could be in line to return, as he looks to regain some match sharpness ahead of the India showdown.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Anderson is four wickets away from eclipsing India's Anil Kumble (619) as the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.

- New Zealand's Latham (3,988 – 99 innings) is 12 runs shy from becoming the ninth Black Caps player to register 4,000 runs in Test cricket.

- Joe Root has scored 4,105 runs in Tests since the beginning of July 2017 when he played his first match as England captain; his tally is the most by any player in that time (Virat Kohli – 2,993).

- New Zealand are undefeated in their last six Tests against England (W3, D3), the last time they recorded a longer unbeaten run against them was an 11-match span from January 1984 to June 1990 (W2, D9).

New Zealand will rest captain Kane Williamson in the second Test against England, meaning opening batsman Tom Latham will skipper the side.

After the opening encounter was drawn, the two-match series will be decided at Edgbaston from Thursday.

But New Zealand will be without world number one Test batsman Williamson, who registered scores of 13 and 1 in the opener at Lord's.

He will sit out of the match as he tries to give a lingering elbow injury time to heal ahead of World Test Championship Final against India next week.

Latham will therefore lead the team for the third time in his career and Will Young, who has just two Test innings to his name, has been brought into the starting XI to bat at number three.

"It is not an easy decision for Kane to have to miss a Test, but we think it is the right one," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"He’s had an injection in his elbow to relieve the irritation he's been experiencing when he bats and a period of rest and rehabilitation will help maximise his recovery.

"The decision has been made very much with the ICC World Test Championship Final at Southampton in mind and we are confident he will be ready for that match starting on June 18."

New Zealand are also expected to rest some of their fast bowlers against England ahead of the crucial match with India.

They are undefeated in their past six Tests against England (W3, D3).

The last time New Zealand recorded a longer unbeaten run against them was an 11-match span from January 1984 to June 1990 (W2, D9).

Devon Conway registered a century on his Test debut as New Zealand enjoyed a productive opening day with the bat in their series with England.

Opener Conway finished up on 136 not out to help the Black Caps close on 246-3 at Lord's in the first of two matches between the nations.

Ollie Robinson also made an impact on debut for England, the Sussex seamer taking 2-50, but it was tough work for the four members of an all-pace attack, with captain Joe Root contributing 12 overs of spin.

Ross Taylor's departure for 14 during the afternoon saw New Zealand sit at 114-3 after winning the toss and opting to bat, but Henry Nicholls combined with Conway to share an unbroken stand worth 132 as England faded.

As he matched former captain Alastair Cook's England record of 161 Test appearances, James Anderson once again dismissed Kane Williamson in the format, the New Zealand captain seeing a defensive push only end up sending the ball back onto his stumps to depart for 13.

Tom Latham also perished via an inside edge, the opener the only wicket to fall in the first session when bowled by Robinson for 23.

However, Conway dazzled in the London sunshine, becoming the 12th New Zealander to mark their maiden Test outing with a century.

The 29-year-old was born in South Africa but cleared to play for New Zealand in August 2020. He had already impressed in white-ball cricket at the highest level prior to his opportunity in the longest format.

His milestone moment arrived in the final session courtesy of a flamboyant flick off his pads through the leg side, one of 16 boundaries the left-hander struck in a composed innings that has so far spanned 240 deliveries.

Nicholls was 46 not out at stumps, happy to play second fiddle to his new team-mate as the Black Caps built the foundations for a big first-innings score.

From fast starts to playing the long game 

Conway - the 281st player to represent New Zealand in Test cricket – had already featured in three one-dayers and 14 Twenty20 games in his international career. Indeed, his T20 batting average (59.1) is the highest of any of the 528 players to make at least 10 appearances. 

His first Test chance saw him set a record too, as he moved beyond Williamson's 131 against India in November 2010 to post the highest score by a Black Caps debutant made outside of New Zealand. 

Anderson able to get Kane once again 

As a busy home schedule that includes a five-match series against India got off to a tough start, Anderson provided a rare moment of success for England by getting rid of Williamson straight after lunch. 

He has now dismissed the right-hander seven times in Tests, the most by any bowler. Indeed, no other New Zealand batsman has fallen to Anderson on more occasions in the format.

Kane Williamson says New Zealand will not be fuelled by the opportunity to gain revenge when they face England at Lord's for the first time since the dramatic Cricket World Cup final.

The Black Caps and England start a two-match Test series at the famous venue on Wednesday.

It is almost two years since England beat New Zealand to win the World Cup for the first time following a tense Super Over in London.

New Zealand captain Williamson is looking forward rather than dwelling on that incredible day, with his side attempting to stretch their longest winning run in the Test format to seven matches at the expense of Joe Root's depleted team.

Asked if the tourists owe England a defeat, Williamson replied: "It was a fantastic game of cricket [the World Cup final] but it's a different side and it's been some time since that day, so our focus is different.

"It's the cricket we want to play as a Test side, there's certainly no thought about owing anybody anything. We were both part of a fantastic game that was decided by largely things outside of both of our teams' control. It was a special game to be a part of but looking forward to the Test here tomorrow."

Williamson added: "The experience was thought of fondly, although it was emotional to a certain extent and at the time to think back and being involved in that match.

"Some of the controversies that surrounded it and drama, all these things that come with tournament cricket and some of the fine margins that we saw in that game. You look back on it fondly and having that match played at a ground like Lord's I suppose just adds to it.

"The guys are really excited to be back here, it's always a pleasure to have the opportunity to play at Lord's and we're looking forward to the next challenge - which is starting tomorrow."

 

Bracey to make debut, Anderson set to equal Cook record

Wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey will make his England debut with both Jos Buttler, who is among several players to be rested after a period of isolation following the early end of the Indian Premier League, and the injured Ben Foakes not available.

Root has named Stuart Broad as his vice-captain for a series that will see the hosts without all-rounder Ben Stokes, absent due to a fractured finger.

Seamer Ollie Robinson will be hoping to get the chance to impress in Test cricket, while Craig Overton is in contention for a recall following an excellent start to the county season for Somerset.

Meanwhile, James Anderson will match Alastair Cook's record of 161 England Test caps if he is named in the side.

 

Black Caps eye long-awaited Lord’s win

New Zealand have won only one Test at Lord's and that was back in July 1999.

England have beaten them eight times at the famous venue, while eight of the previous 17 contests have ended in a draw.

The tourists face India in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl after taking on England twice. They have not won a Test series in England since a 2-1 victory 22 years ago.

 

Key Opta facts

- Williamson needs just 58 runs to become the second-highest run-scorer for the Black Caps in men's Test cricket. Ross Taylor (7,379) and Stephen Fleming (7,172) are the only New Zealanders to manage more than Williamson (7,115) in the format.

- Since the start of 2020, Root has scored 1,258 runs at an average of 54.7 in Tests. His tally of runs is 414 more than any other player during this period.

- Black Caps paceman Kyle Jamieson has a strike rate of 33.3 with the ball in Tests since the start of last year. Only two players (minimum 50 overs bowled) have a better rate in that time (Hasan Ali – 25.8 and Axar Patel – 28.3)

- England have lost only one of their last 10 Tests against New Zealand on home soil (W8, D1); however, that defeat was their most recent meeting (lost by 199 runs at Headingley in May 2015)

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