WTC21: The two-year struggle for World Champions in Test cricket finally came to an end after Kane Williamson-led New Zealand defeated India by eight wickets in the World Test Championship (WTC) final to lift the shiny mace at Rose Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday.
New Zealand finally managed to get over the line in an ICC tournament final after losing the 2015 and 2019 World Cup finals against Australia and England respectively, with the last one hurting the most as they went down on boundary count after the match ended in a tie in normal time and the Super Over.
New Zealand chased down the target of 139 in 45.5 overs after losing their openers in quick succession in the final session thanks to the unbroken 96-run partnership between Taylor (47 not out) and Williamson (52 not out).
Meanwhile, in these two years, players from different teams dominated in the entire WTC cycle of 2019-21. While some batters showed top-class cricket with consistent performance, few have failed miserably. Case isn’t different with bowlers too. While some ruled the bowling charts, few remained wicketless in matches.
In this article, we will look at the best XI of the World Test Championship 2019-21 cycle.
1. Rohit Sharma
Matches: 12, Runs: 1094, Batting Average: 60.77
This player doesn’t need introduction. Does he? He is the deadliest opener India ever have. The 34-year-old took the opener’s role in Test cricket for the first time back in 2019 in the home series against South Africa and since then he has never looked back.
In 12 Tests, Sharma scored 1094 runs at an average of 60.77 with 4 tons and 2 fifties. Although he wasn’t that impressive in WTC final in Southampton but that doesn’t change the fact that Sharma is the main man India have. He was impressive in Australia and in home series against England. Rohit Sharma is the 6th highest run-getter of WTC 2021.
2. Dimuth Karunaratne
Matches: 10, Runs: 999, Batting Average: 55.50
Sri Lanka didn’t perform well in this two years cycle but their one batsman batted brilliantly in the tournament – Dimuth Karunaratne. He smashed 4 centuries in 18 innings in World Test Championship and holds the 7th spot on this list of highest run getters. Karunaratne played 18 innings in World Test Championship and scored 999 runs.
Karunaratne smacked 122 runs in a Test match against New Zealand in August 2019. He went on to smash 103 in a match against South Africa in January 2021. Later, he smashed a double hundred (244) against Bangladesh in April 2021, follower by a century (118) against Bangladesh.
3. Marnus Labuschagne
Matches: 13, Runs: 1675, Batting Average: 72.82
Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne looked in great form with bat during the commencement of the World Test Championship. He finished as the leading run-scorer in the competition with 1675 runs from 23 innings at an amazing average of 72.82. The Australian batter became the center of attraction in the cricket world and a serious competition for leading international batters.
4. Steve Smith
Matches: 13, Runs: 1341, Batting Average: 63.85
Australian legend Steve Smith, started the World Test Championship with a bang, racking up multiple centuries against arch-rivals England in the 2019 Ashes in the UK. He averaged a massive 110.57 in 4 Ashes Tests scoring 774 runs of his total 1341 in one series with the help of 3 centuries and 3 half-centuries. Overall, he averaged 63.85 in 22 innings during WTC cycle. He finished as the third highest run scorer in the competition.
5. Kane Williamson
Matches: 10 Runs: 918, Batting Average: 61.20
WTC 2021 winning captain Kane Williamson has played some vital knocks whenever his team needed it most. Talking about WTC 2021, the Kiwi batsman has accumulated 918 runs in 10 Tests with the help of 3 tons and 2 half centuries. He averaged 61.20 in World Test Championship.
6. Ben Stokes
Matches: 17, Runs: 1334, Batting Average: 46.0, Wickets: 34, Bowling Average: 26.26
English All-rounder Ben Stokes was fairly impressive with the bat in WTC. He accumulated 1334 runs in 32 innings at an average of 46. He smashed four centuries and 7 fifties during the phase. This includes a stunning knock of 135 not out against Australia at Headingley in the Ashes 2019. Overall, he is the fourth highest run-scorer in the competition.He also has 34 scalps to his name in the mega competition.
7. Rishabh Pant
Matches: 12, Runs: 707, Batting Average: 39.27
The spiderman of India well deserves this position. The improved wicket-keeper batsman made some crucial runs in big clashes and proved to be India’s game-changer in their successful tour Down Under. Pant scored 707 runs in the World Test Championship 2019-21 in 12 Tests at an average of 39.27, notching up 1 hundred and 4 fifties. His unbeaten knock of 89 in the fourth innings heist in Brisbane is still the most craziest innings the cricket world had witnessed.
8. Kyle Jamieson
Matches: 7, Wickets: 43, Bowling Average: 12.53
Kyle Jamieson emerged as the finest bowler for New Zealand with the most five-wicket hauls in World Test Championship. His bowling spell against India in the WTC final at Southampton was beyond excellence. Jamieson, overall picked up 43 wickets at a mind-boggling average of 12.53 in 7 Test matches. Jamieson picked up five five-wicket hauls in the WTC in those seven Tests.
9. R Ashwin
Matches: 14, Wickets: 71, Bowling Average: 20.33
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finished the 2019-21 World Test Championship cycle as the leading wicket-taker with 71 wickets to his name. The 34-year-old off-spinner achieved the feat during the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, which was his 14th Test in this cycle of WTC. His 71st victim was New Zealand opener Devon Conway. Ashwin picked up two wickets each in the first (2/28) and second innings (2/17) in the final.
10. Pat Cummins
Matches: 14, Wickets: 70, Bowling Average: 21.02
Australia’s vice-captain, Pat Cummins was impressive throughout the course of the World Test Championship starting from the Ashes. Despite taking just one five-wicket haul in 14 WTC Tests, Cummins is the second highest wicket-taker in the competition with 70 wickets in 14 Tests.
11. Stuart Broad
Matches: 17, Wickets: 69, Bowling Average: 20.08
England’s veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad have had a great time in the World Test Championship cycle as he picked up 69 wickets at an outstanding average of 20.08. Broad made great use of his experience to deliver the goods for his team. He was at his best in the English conditions and exploited the help from the surface.