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WTC 2023 final: India eyes first title against competitive Australia
London: The Indian Test team is set to face Australia in one of the games that could define their legacy and the prowess they have gained in the recent time as they made their way into the World Test Championship 2023 final by defying the odds.
On Wednesday the Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and Australian captain Pat Cummins will set their eyes to claim the trophy that is still missing from their cabinet which is filled with individual and team accolades. The Indian team will look to heal the wounds which were inflicted by the New Zealand team in the inaugural WTC final. Even though they were barely a few steps away from claiming the title, the distance never felt so far.
They will be backing themselves on a ground that is quite familiar to the echoes of their victorious chants. In the 14 Test matches at this Oval, the Indian team has stood victorious twice, lost three times and the remaining seven matches were ruled a draw.
The tales of their last travel are still the talk of the town, as they won the game by 157 runs against England in 2021.
While this venue is nothing short of a place that the Australian team fears to venture into. The Aussies have played 34 matches at this venue, they have won 7, lost 17, and 14 of them ended as draw.
There are a few Indian players who would be more than willing to ensure that Australia's horror run continues at the Oval. Virat Kohli tops the chart as his endless love affair with the Australian team continues to live on.
The aggression and the level of intensity Kohli showcases against his opponent is just a glimpse of the love he has for the opponents. This love of his especially comes out against Australia. In 24 Tests against Australia, he has scored 1,979 runs at an average of 48.26, with eight tons and five fifties. His best score is 186. Across all formats against Australia, Virat has played 92 matches, in which he has scored 4,945 runs at an average of 50.97. His best score is 186. He has scored 16 centuries and 24 fifties against Aussies.
The second Indian player who emerges as a threat for the Australian team not only in the WTC final but for the years that lie ahead - is Shubman Gill.
The 23-year-old has learned the ways of making people see his ability and talent with the bat. He was in brilliant form for the Gujarat Titans in the IPL this year, slamming three hundred and four fifties and finishing as the tournament's highest run-scorer with 890 runs at an average just shy of 60.
In terms of the bowling threat, Mohammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj will be the two pace bowlers who will lead India's bowling attack from the front.
While talking about Shami, the 32-year-old pace veteran has impressed with the ball in the 2021-23 WTC cycle. In 12 matches, he took 41 wickets at an average of 27.12 at an economy rate of 3.29, with best bowling figures of 5/29.8)
While Siraj displayed his capabilities with the red ball during the 2021-23 WTC cycle, Siraj presented his case to be India's next pace-bowling superstar with some match-winning performances. In 13 matches, this Hyderabad pacer took 31 wickets at an average of 32.86 and an economy rate of 3.54. He has the best bowling figures of 4/32.
Even though the record, Australia's past performances and series losses against India, the Australian team will still come up as a competitor who will challenge for the title till the last ball.
Just like Kohli loves to play against Australia, Steve Smith's favourite opponent is India. In 18 Test matches, he has featured in a total of 35 innings, he has struck 1887 runs at an eye-watering average of 65.07 and an impressive strike rate of 52.80.
Another batter who will pose a threat to India's challenge will be Marnus Labuschagne. In 37 Test matches, the Australian has a score of 3,394 runs with an average of 57.53 and a strike rate of 54.22.
In terms of their bowling line-up, Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland will be the two pacers to watch out for in the testing English conditions. In 77 matches, Starc has picked up 306 wickets with an economy of 3.30. He has 13 five-wicket hauls in his name. His left arm and taking the ball away from the batter could turn out to be the biggest concern the Indian skipper Rohit Sharma faces.
While Boland is known for the spell he produced against England, he tore apart the entire English battling line-up and ended up with the figures of 6-7. If the pitch carries even the slightest possibility of swinging the ball he will be the one to watch out for.
The WTC final will begin at 3 pm IST from June 7 till June 11 at the Oval, London, a reserve day is also in place if the weather intervenes to spoil the sport.
India's squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).
Suryakumar Yadav, Mukesh Kumar and Yashasvi Jaiswal have been named as stand-by players for the high-stakes match.
Australia squad for WTC final: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc,
David WarnerStandby players: Mitch Marsh, and Matthew Renshaw. (ANI)