The countdown has begun for the highly-anticipated battle between the two best Test teams in the world – India and New Zealand. Both teams will take on each other in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final in Southampton on June 18. The high-octane clash will be a showdown among some superstars of world cricket. The likes of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Ross Taylor and the newbie Devon Conway will take the centre stage. But as per the former India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, it is the ‘cool and calm’ Cheteshwar Pujara who will hold the key for Team India if they want to win the battle against New Zealand in the longer format.

Parthiv believes Pujara will be the highest run-scorer in the ICC World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in Southampton, starting on June 18. Speaking on Star Sports show Cricket Connected, Parthiv gave his views on who might score the maximum runs and who can be the highest wicket-taker in the upcoming marquee event.

“I will back Cheteshwar Pujara to get the highest scorer title in this Test match. If India has to win, you have to keep Pujara for your No.3 — if India loses early wickets. If he goes on to bat for 3-4 hours in this Test match, I think India will be in a very good position. So, I am backing Pujara to be the highest run-scorer in this Test match.

Pujara is known to bail the team out from crisis situations by digging deep into his vast reserves of patience and perseverance. Batting at the all-important number 3 position, the 33-year-old has been the rock in a batting line-up full of stroke makers.

“I will put cricketing logic aside and I will back India to win this Test match. I think Mohammad Shami holds the key to the Indian bowling attack. Yes, Bumrah and Ishan Sharma have been bowling and preparing well, but I think Mohammad Shami is key. The way he has been bowling in England and he has done really well in all conditions,” Parthiv pointed.

But former India bowling all-rounder Irfan Pathan had some contrasting views in comparison to Parthiv. Irfan said: “WTC Final, it’s the biggest Test match ever. I think New Zealand will have a 55-45 advantage. I also think Kane Williamson will be the highest scorer. And, in terms of highest wicket-taker, it will be between Trent Boult and Mohammad Shami.”

India will play New Zealand from June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton to decide the first champion side of the longest format.

The playing conditions confirm that a draw or a tie will see both teams crowned as joint winners as well as the allocation of a Reserve Day to make up for any lost time during the regular days of the Final, scheduled to be played from June 18 to 22. June 23 has been set aside as the Reserve Day. The match will be played using Grade 1 Dukes cricket balls.