Make no mistake – the ICC World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand has been played on a knife’s edge.
A contest between the world’s two top Test teams – both on the WTC standings and the ICC rankings – always promised to be a high-quality affair and going into the final day of action that has proved to be the case.
The statistics paint a picture of just how high the level of play has been.
According to CricViz data, since ball tracking commenced in 2006, only six Tests have seen a lower ‘Expected Balls Per Wicket’ measure than the current match. Of those six, none have seen a lower actual dismissal rate.
Only six Tests in the ball tracking era (2006) have seen a lower Expected Balls Per Wicket (i.e. more threatening bowling) than this. None of the six have seen a higher Actual BpW (batsman surviving the bowling) than this one. This is stupidly high quality cricket. #INDvNZ #WTC21— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) June 22, 2021
Essentially, this match should be seeing the seventh-fewest deliveries per dismissal in a Test since 2006. That is testament to the quality of the bowling on show. So too is the meagre match run-rate of 2.27 so far, which is the lowest seen in a Test in the UK since 1986.
While CricViz numbers suggest wickets should be falling every 46.1 deliveries (Expected Balls Per Wicket) – in reality, the match strike rate is only 60.4. That is indicative of the calibre of the batters on both sides.
As impressive as all that is, it is almost unsurprising given the quality of players on both teams. Five of the top 10 Test batters on the ICC rankings are playing – Kane Williamson (2nd), Virat Kohli (4th), Rohit Sharma (6th), Rishabh Pant (6th) and Henry Nicholls (8th) – while every bowler in the match, outside of all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, sits in the top 20.
Going into the final day of play, India are 64/2 with a lead of 32, with Cheteshwar Pujara (12) and Virat Kohli (8) at the crease.
So far this Test has been a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object but don’t be surprised if the threshold breaks at some stage on Wednesday.