• Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Match Preview – Australia vs India, ICC World Test Championship 2021-2023, Final

Match Preview – Australia vs India, ICC World Test Championship 2021-2023, Final

BIG PICTURE – Final win for Warner, Starc, Ashwin, Kohli, Pujara?

Is it the most prestigious competition in world cricket? Or is it a final that should be more than a one-off match, but thanks to the constraints of a calendar that squeezes Test cricket to the edges, the two events are, in very different ways, more important. , and moving toward the end of an exclusive league that isn’t even a proper league?

The answer, perhaps, is both. For all its flaws, this is the final of the World Test Championship, which could define the careers of the 22 players taking part, and end with joys and regrets that they will hold on to for the rest of their lives. .

This final looks particularly heavy because it pits two of the best teams of not just the last two years of Test cricket, but its last decade.

In the 2019–21 cycle, they were the dominant team in Test cricket, losing only one series to New Zealand, before losing the final to the same team with all their key players. They’ve had to chart a tougher route to the finals this time around, and some of the best names in their ranks have lost their old invincibility, but they remain a formidable side who will treasure this chance to do something new in Australia. Sealand did to them two years ago.

Australia will feel they should have been part of the finals in 2021 – which they missed out on as an over-rate penalty dropped them to third rather than second in the points table. Here they are now, though, and as league-table toppers, they start with a clear edge. They are, like India, an all-weather team, but are particularly good in conditions that favor pace over spin. More crucially, they are out with a few key players injured. Australia will miss Josh Hazelwood while India will be without Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant. It is a credit to the depth of talent in their system that India still look formidable.

This final represents a final flourish for both sides’ era-defining players. Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and David Warner are all 33 or older, with R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav all under three months old. Too shy to join them. All of them have played more than 50 Tests except captains Cummins and Rohit, who will reach that milestone on Wednesday.

Two golden generations are gunning for what could be their last shot at a Test world title. Some dreams will come true and some will be shattered.

Form Guide

Australia DWLLD (last five tests, most recent first)
India DLWWW

Spotted – Cummins and Shami

Pat Cummins February-March tour of India, both on and off the field. Taking three wickets at an average of 39.55 in two Tests, he left midway through the tour to spend time with his critically ill mother, who died while playing the fourth Test. In his absence, Australia staged a spirited fight back from 2-0 down to win the third Test and draw the fourth, with stand-in captain Steven Smith drawing widespread praise for his tactical brilliance. While Smith has said he no longer has full-time leadership ambitions and reiterated that this is now “Pat’s team”, Cummins’ captaincy may still come under some scrutiny at the Oval, where he looks to re-establish his world credentials. A good fast bowler, especially when Hazlewood was out injured.

Bumrah may challenge Cummins’ claim to be the world’s best fast bowler, but he will play no part in this final. Bumrah’s absence leaves India without their No. 1 strike weapon and could upset the balance of their attack – even if conditions dictate, they will find it difficult to pick four fast bowlers without Bumrah around. Then it is inevitable Mohammad Shami Brings all his class and experience to play. His record in England – 38 wickets at 40.52 from 13 Tests – is deceiving as he has often been unlucky to bowl well in the country and India will be hoping he finds a way at the Oval. Bat often, but also find the edge.

Team News – Bharat or Kishan?

With Scott Boland confirmed to replace the injured Hazlewood, Australia almost picked their XI. With Peter Handscomb out of the squad after a fine spell as a middle-order batsman in the Indian team, Travis Head will return to the No.5 slot and give way to David Warner, who has missed the last two Tests in India. Fractured elbow to return as opener alongside Usman Khawaja.

Australia (Probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnes Labushagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (WK), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland.

Ajinkya Rahane is set to return to Test cricket for the first time since January 2022, his experience surpassing Suryakumar Yadav, while current No.5 Sheyas Iyer is likely to be sidelined with an injury. KS Bharat’s excellent gloves in the home series against Australia earned him the nod over Ishan Kishan, but in English conditions, with keepers spending far less time up to the stumps, sharp turn and erratic bounce, India may be tempted to back Kishan’s counter-attacking skills. – Arm. The biggest question they face is whether to play four fast bowlers and a spinner in Ravindra Jadeja or pair them with R Ashwin.

India (Probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (captain), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 KS Bharat/Ishan Kishan (UK), 8 R Ashwin/Shardul Thakur, 9 Umesh Yadav/Jaidev Unadkat, 10 Mohammad Shami, 11 Mohammad Siraj.

Pitch and weather

Spin often plays a crucial role on the oval. Since the start of 2012, when the ground has hosted 10 Tests, fast bowlers have averaged 30.57 and spinners 34.83 at the Oval. Of the English grounds where at least five Tests were played during this period, the fast bowlers made their mark at the Oval. Worst collective averageMeanwhile Spinners Only at Ageas Bowl (31.27) and Headingley (32.43) did better.

However, these numbers have something to do with the Oval Tests in August and September, when the weather is hot and dry and the pitches are subject to wear and tear during the long English summer. The ground has never hosted a Test match before June.

Oval pitches usually offer plenty of bounce that will stimulate the fast and slow bowlers on both sides, as well as allow the batters to play their shots if there is not much sideways movement.

The forecast promises a clear and bright start to the Test match, with maximum temperatures in the early 20s. Rain is possible on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, however – on the scheduled fourth and fifth reserve days.

Statistics and trivia

  • India have won their last four Test series against Australia – two at home and two overseas – all by 2-1 margins.
  • Australia (0.411) and India (0.400) are almost identical Win-loss ratio In the oval. Here, Australia have won seven and lost 17 out of 38 Tests, while India have won two out of 14 and lost five.
  • Virat Kohli is 21 runs short of becoming the fifth player to score for India 2000 Test runs against Australia. Sachin Tendulkar (3630), VVS Laxman (2434), Rahul Dravid (2143) and Cheteshwar Pujara (2033) have reached this achievement.
  • Steven Smith scored 391 runs at an average of 97.75 in three Tests at The Oval, with two centuries and an 80 in five innings.
  • Quotations

    “I think it’s booking a bit over the last couple of years and then it feels like starting fresh with an Ashes series. I think the first final was a bit of a foreign concept. It’ll be nice to be a part of that. So there’s been a bit more of it in the last couple of years and it’s great to be here.”
    Pat Cummins The idea of ​​the WTC and the desire to be a part of the finals is said to have grown on Australia’s players over its two cycles.

    “No, actually the way he’s batting now, I don’t think he needs any advice. It’s about his preparation, how he’s prepared in the last five or six days since he came back from the IPL (… ) Gill is someone who likes to bat, likes to spend a lot of time in the middle order. , though it was T20 format, you know, he got big centuries (in IPL). Middle, take that challenge, that’s what he likes, that’s what I hope (he’ll do in the WTC final) and Team India is hoping that he spends a lot of time in the middle order and plays well like he used to. He’s been doing it for six or eight months. So to be honest, he doesn’t have to say too much. It gives him confidence because he’s a very confident player.”
    Rohit Sharma On whether he has any advice for his opening partner Shubman Gill.

    Karthik Krishnaswamy is Assistant Editor at ESPN Cricinfo

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