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Indian captain Virat Kohli calls for three-match World Test Championship final after loss to Kane Williamson’s New Zealand

* This article was originally published by Stuff.co.nz and was republished with permission

Beaten Indian captain Virat Kohli has implored the ICC to decide future World Test Championships over three-match series.

Kohli presided over a third-straight Test defeat to the Black Caps, taking in last year’s series in New Zealand, as Kane Williamson’s jubilant men hoisted the ICC mace and pocketed $2.27 million in prizemoney after winning the WTC decider by eight wickets at Southampton.

India’s captain echoed his coach Ravi Shastri who questioned pre-match the one-off decider for the inaugural WTC which, was contested over the last two years.

Asked about the format, Kohli said: “I’m not in absolute agreement of deciding the best Test side in the world over the course of one game. 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 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. It has to be a hard grind and something that definitely needs to be worked on in the future.

“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.

“We are not too bothered by this result because we understand, as a Test side what we’ve done over the last three, four years, not just over the last 18 months. 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.”

New Zealand usurped India as No.1 on the ICC Test rankings for the first time in January, after their 4-0 home series sweep over the West Indies and Pakistan. India regained top spot with a second-successive series win in Australia, before the Black Caps took it back with a 1-0 series victory in England this month.

The WTC was contested over three home and three away series, some of which were postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. India and New Zealand qualified first and second for the final on percentage of points earned, which correlated with the ICC rankings that also had them top two.

This one-off Test was high in quality and intensely fought, but nearly ruined by the washouts on day one and day four. The reserve day saved it, with 98 overs available on the final day which stretched into the last hour.

Kohli said his call for a three-Test final was not just because he was on the losing side.

“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? 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.”

The main problem with scheduling a three-Test final is actually fitting it into a crammed international calendar dominated by the ‘big three’ (India, Australia, England), alongside the IPL and other T20 tournaments.

Williamson, whose side recorded their seventh win from their last eight Tests when he and Ross Taylor combined to chase down their target of 139, wasn’t so sure of a three-Test decider.

“The one-off factor does bring a unique dynamic, which does make it exciting and on any given day anything can happen. We’ve been on all different sides of that statement,” he said.

“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.

“No doubt the more cricket that you have 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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