Former England spinner Monty Panesar feels that Indian batsmen might struggle against the New Zealand pacers in the final of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) if the conditions favor swing and seam bowling at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.
It is rainy and cold in the UK at the moment and if it stays that way for the WTC final starting from June 18, then it will be an advantage for New Zealand, feels Panesar.
"At the moment there is a lot of rain around. If the weather stays like this then it will be an interesting battle between the Indian and New Zealand seamers. The New Zealand batsman also plays the moving ball better than the Indian batsmen.
So, that, that would be quite interesting to see if the ball is swinging and moving at some stage during the Test match, how the Indian batsmen, stand up to it compared to New Zealand," Panesar told PTI.
However on the flip side, if the conditions at the Rose bowl are sunny and dry, Panesar feels that India will have the upper hand in the contest. Panesar also expects the ICC to prepare a neutral wicket and not a green top as the WTC is supposed to be a good advert for the five-day game.
"They have got a great draining system at the Ageas Bowl. Normally you see nice good hot weather. Hopefully, the game will go on for the whole four to five days. On that basis, you are looking at two spinners (Ashwin and Jadeja) from India and three seamers. If the weather is clear then India becomes favorites. So it depends a lot on the conditions,” Panesar said.
The Indian team will arrive in the UK on June 2 and will get a little over 10 days to train. On the other hand, New Zealand will come into the final after playing two Tests against England and Panesar feels it can be a problem for New Zealand if they don’t perform well in those matches.
"If New Zealand do well in the next two Test matches, then the momentum is going to favor them against India. But if England can beat them, suddenly they're going to be low on confidence and it is a good time for India to come.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are usually very effective at this time of the year but England have picked a B team (for NZ series) in the absence of some key players, so we will see,” Panesar said.
Despite all said and done, Panesar feels India has got the belief to win from any situation after the triumph in Australia.
"If you said the WTC final is in a week's time, I would pick India as they have played much more hard cricket. The team is probably believing that it can win from any situation, while New Zealand has played good cricket, but they haven't really had the hard victories like India. What really makes a top team is when you win from really difficult, tough situations,” the former England spinner said.
"You saw the depth of Indian cricket in Australia, now you will see the depth of England cricket. Where does the team stand if Joe Root doesn't score? Who steps up if Broad and Anderson go for runs? So, there are many questions that need to be answered,” said Panesar.
Furthermore, Panesar predicted India will beat England 5-0 in the Test series that will follow the WTC final. "The series is in August, it is going to nice and hot, wickets will be dry. If there was any other time I would have said England. That time of the year favors India," Panesar added.