Not a big fan of one-off WTC final, champion should be decided by a three-match series, states Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli expressed his displeasure over the WTC being decided by a one-off final and claimed that the ICC should ‘definitely’ consider making it a three-match series to enable teams to stage comebacks. Kohli claimed that a champion being decided by ‘two good days of cricket’ felt wrong.

It was heartbreak at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday for team India as the side faltered in a ICC knockout match for the sixth time running to finish as runners up in the inaugural World Test Championship cycle. India, heading into the final, had topped the WTC table, having had a 100-run lead over every other side, but ultimately dropped the ball in the finale as a horror batting performance on the final day saw the side suffer a eight-wicket defeat at the hands of New Zealand. 

The result meant that New Zealand won their first ever major ICC title, but in the press conference post the final, Indian skipper Virat Kohli expressed displeasure over the existing format. In the current format, winners are decided by a one-off final played across a maximum of six days, but Kohli felt that the format was flawed. The Indian skipper said that he was not in agreement with one match deciding the winner of a competition played across two years, and asserted that the ICC will need to seriously deliberate introducing a three-match series to decide the winner.

“Well, look, firstly, I’m not in absolute agreement of deciding the best Test side in the world over the course of one game, to be very honest. If it is a Test series, it has to be a test of character over three Tests, which team has the ability to come back into the series or totally blow away the other team. It can’t just be a pressure applied over two days of good cricket and then you suddenly are not a good Test side anymore. I don’t believe in that,” Kohli said in the press conference post the game.

“I just believe that it[final] should be done over the course of three matches so that you as a side prepare accordingly and you have a chance to, as I said, either drive home the advantage or really test the other team out if you haven’t had a good first game.

“I think it has to be a hard grind and something that definitely needs to be worked on in the future to really — at the end of three matches, there’s effort, there’s ups and downs, there’s situations changing throughout the course of the series, a chance to rectify the things that you’ve done wrong in the first game and then really see who’s the better side over the course of a three-match series or something will be a good measure of how things really are, so we are not too bothered by this result because we understand, as I said, as a Test side what we’ve done over the last three, four years, not just over the last 18 months but over the last three, four years. So this is not a measure of who we are as a team and the ability and the potential we have had for so many years now.”

Kohli referenced the quality that was on display in the inaugural WTC Final, and said that playing two more games with similar standards will not just give a fair indication of who the best side is, but will also be a treat for fans.

“I mean, if you saw the way the game went with whatever time we got on the field, as well, why wouldn’t you want to see two more Tests of the same teams battling it out and eventually being the winners of the World Test Championship? I think historically all the great series that you’ve seen in Test cricket, you remember them over a period of three matches or five matches perhaps, but two teams going against each other and those series become memorable.

“I think this definitely has to be brought in. I’m not saying this because we’re not on the winning side, but just for Test cricket and for this saga to be absolutely memorable, I think it has to happen over a period of three games minimum so that you have a series to remember because there are going to be ups and downs through and through with two quality sides going at each other knowing that there’s so much on the line.”

Kohli’s counterpart Kane Williamson, however, offered a different perspective. The New Zealand skipper, who in the past has been at the centre of heartbreaks in a final, reckoned that the one-off final brings a unique dynamic, where the ‘anything can happen’ caveat brings excitement and unpredictability.

“I suppose the exciting part of finals is that anything can happen. We know how fickle cricket is and we’ve seen it in other competitions, in other World Cups and in all other bits and pieces. The one-off factor does bring a unique dynamic, which does make it exciting and all these sorts of things, and on any given day anything can happen. We’ve been on all different sides of that statement,” Williamson said.

“I suppose there’s arguments for both sides, and I guess the challenge would be scheduling and that series amongst a lot of cricket that’s already on, but no doubt the more cricket that you have perhaps within a series, the more you do find out and the more it does reveal itself, but in the same way it was a really exciting match. The first time that there’s been this competition on and both teams were fully geared for the game, and it was a brilliant game of cricket.”

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