World Test Championship: Blackcaps coach Gary Stead warns not to under-estimate India

Even as his team celebrated T20 success over old foes Australia, Blackcaps coach Gary Stead has half an eye on the World Test Championship final - but only half an eye.

While New Zealand clinched their place in the five-day decider a month ago, their opponents have only now emerged, with India claiming a 3-1 home series victory over England this weekend.

After losing the opening encounter, the hosts engineered a dramatic comeback through spin-friendly pitches - an edge they can't count on at Lord's in June.

En route to the final, the Blackcaps swept India 2-0 in a home series last summer, but Stead isn't counting his chickens too early. 

"The nice thing is we've known we were there for a while, we're just working out who we play," he says. "India's a great team - they have worldbeaters right through their team and some very, very good players as well.

"Now it allows us to start some planning and thinking about that, probably when we get to the end of the season. We've still got Bangladesh coming first."

India have ended New Zealand's brief reign atop the world test rankings and also finish at the head of the championship standings.

But perhaps even more impressive than their dominance of England was their resilience against Australia across the Tasman in January, when they were dismissed for 36 in a first-test defeat, but won the series decider at Brisbane.

"India are a well-travelled team these days," says Stead. "They play well in all conditions and to get to the final, you have to show you can win away from home.

"They've certainly done that and if we need a reminder at all - I don't think we do - we could think about how they played in Australia. 

"I thought they were outstanding over there."

While the test final is scheduled for the iconic London venue, COVID-19 may yet force it moved somewhere else in England.

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