Australia lock horns with India in the
final of the 2023 ICC World Test Championship at the Oval in the ultimate
battle for red-ball supremacy. The 2023 final is a culmination of a 24-month
long cycle in which Australia and India have been the two standout teams in
Test cricket, dominating across conditions home and away to qualify for the
grand showdown in London.
The Men in Blue lost only one Test series
in this current WTC cycle, falling 2-1 to Dean Elgar’s South Africa in December
2021, while Pat Cummins’ side also suffered just a single series defeat, losing
the Border-Gavaskar series to India earlier this year.
Australia’s 2-1 defeat to India in the
subcontinent was their fourth consecutive Test series loss to India, and the
Men in Blue have enjoyed plenty of recent success against Australia in red-ball
cricket, vanquishing their opponents on each of their last two visits down
However, the seaming conditions expected at
the Oval in June levels the playing field, neutralising the strength of India’s
fabled spin trio, while also making it difficult for Australia’s world-class
top order to pile up the runs.
watch out for
Shubman Gill has made waves with the bat in
2023, scoring 624 runs in just nine ODIs for the Men in Blue before enjoying a
record-breaking season in the IPL for the Gujarat Titans. Gill has yet to
translate his white-ball form into the longest format and is still finding his
feet in whites with an average of 34.8 in 15 Tests. However, Gill scored a
terrific century in his last Test outing against Australia in Ahmedabad and
could be India’s x-factor with the bat in the World Test Championship Final.
For Australia, Usman Khawaja has stolen the
show over the last few years at the top of the order, making a phenomenal
comeback to the side. The left-hander is the second-highest run-getter behind
Joe Root in this WTC cycle, scoring 1608 runs and six centuries in his last 16
Tests at a sensational average of 69.9.
Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the
one-off Test against India due to injury, paving the way for Scott Boland, Pat
Cummins, and Mitchell Starc to share the fast-bowling duties at the Oval.
For India, there are no immediate injury
concerns other than long-term absentees Pant, Bumrah, and KL Rahul. KS Bharat
is likely to take the gloves in Pant and Rahul’s absence, while the biggest
selection decisions for Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma will be the identity of
the third seamer backing up Mohammed Siraj and Shami and whether to play both
spinners – Ashwin and Jadeja – in cloudy, English conditions.
Australia: Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis
Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon,