Saturday, 23 Sep, 2023


Australia and India set for WTC final showdown

Sports Desk |
Update: 2023-06-07 13:33:44
Australia and India set for WTC final showdown [Photo: Collected]

World Test Championship final: Australia v India

Venue: The Oval Date: 7-11 June (reserve day on 12 June) Time: 10:30 BST

Coverage: Live commentary on Test Match Special through BBC Sounds and Radio 5 Sports Extra, live text commentary with in-play clips on the BBC Sport website

"It's the pinnacle of Test cricket."

Given the history of the two, perhaps it is little surprise that David Warner was referring to The Ashes rather than the World Test Championship final.

The latter may be in its infancy but for both Australia and India, the prospect of being crowned world Test champions is one to savour.

For Australia, the final is the first of six Tests in eight weeks in what could be a defining period for Pat Cummins' side - a challenge he is embracing despite the tight schedule.

"It's a World Cup final so we wouldn't change too much about it," the Australia captain told BBC Sport.

"We've been playing brilliant cricket the last two years but it seems like every Ashes tour you start afresh and get judged on that.

"We're pumped and feel in as good a position as we can be so we'll give it a good crack."

Meanwhile, after they were beaten by New Zealand in the inaugural final in 2021, India are back and victory at The Oval would end a 10-year wait for an ICC trophy for the powerhouse of world cricket.

"The players know when India won and when they didn't," said India skipper Rohit Sharma.

"I don't think it is right to think about it again and again. You have to focus on the situation and how we can do better.

"Our team's focus is on how we will win this match."

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, KS Bharat, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadakt, Umesh Yadav.

Conditions 'favour Australia' and India's spin dilemma

Australia qualified for the final after topping the nine-team points table, just ahead of India in second.

Cummins' side won 11 of their 19 Tests in the two-year qualifying window but their one series defeat came at the hands of India earlier this year.

Although India have won the last four series between the sides, former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes his countrymen do have a certain advantage in the final.

"The conditions should suit Australia more because the English conditions are more like Australia than they are like India," Ponting said.

The Aussies will be without fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, though. The 32-year-old is recovering from a side injury and will not be risked ahead of the first Ashes Test on 16 June.

Michael Neser has been added to the squad as his replacement, joining a fearsome pace attack also featuring Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland.

With the bat, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, ranked one and three respectively in the Test rankings, headline a top five all averaging over 45.

India have concerns of their own with batters Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, seamer Jasprit Bumrah and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant all missing through injury.

However, a batting line-up comprising Rohit, Virat Kohli and the in-form Shubman Gill still looks formidable, while Mohammed Shami spearheads a potent bowling seam attack.

India must also decide whether to play two spinners on an Oval surface that often takes turn as the game progresses or leave out Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin, who boast a combined 738 Test wickets.

"The message to the boys has been very clear, all 15 must be ready to play at any point in time," Rohit said.

He added: "Whoever uses the conditions really well, probably will win the game. As simple as that."

Big crowds and a sixth day?

After the 2021 showpiece was moved from Lord's to Southampton because of Covid-19, with the capacity severely limited, this will be the first final without restrictions and a strong turnout is expected at The Oval.

Monday has been scheduled as a reserve day to allow for the making up of time lost during the match.

The sixth day will only be used to reclaim lost time, however.

If the match is drawn, tied or abandoned, the £1.93m prize money pot and the Test mace, the trophy previously awarded to the top-ranked men's Test team, will be shared and the teams named joint winners.

Source: BBC 

BDST: 1333 HRS, JUNE 07, 2023

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