The World Test Championship Final 2023 is just around the corner, with the two best teams in Test cricket, India and Australia, set to lock horns on the prestigious stage. Both teams have shown remarkable consistency and dominance in the longer format of the game over the past decade. This epic clash promises to be a thrilling encounter between the two cricketing giants, with several key players on both sides looking to leave their mark on the game.
With so much at stake, let’s delve into a comprehensive preview of the World Test Championship Final 2023, including team form, key players, and potential strategies.
Big Picture: A Battle of Golden Generations
The final of the World Test Championship 2023 may very well be the last opportunity for some of the most celebrated cricketers of this generation to compete for the ultimate Test cricket glory. Players like David Warner, Mitchell Starc, R Ashwin, Virat Kohli, and Cheteshwar Pujara, who have already etched their names in the annals of cricket history, would undoubtedly be keen to add a World Test Championship title to their already glittering resumes.
Both India and Australia have had their fair share of ups and downs in the lead-up to the final, with injuries and dips in form affecting their key players. However, the sheer depth of talent in both squads ensures that this contest will be nothing short of a blockbuster.
Form Guide: India and Australia’s Road to the Final
India and Australia have both had their fair share of challenges en route to the World Test Championship Final. While India had to endure a tortuous journey filled with injuries and close encounters, Australia narrowly missed out on the 2021 final due to an over-rate penalty.
India’s Form Guide: DLWWW (last five Tests, most recent first)
Australia’s Form Guide: DWLLD (last five Tests, most recent first)
Despite these setbacks, both teams have displayed remarkable resilience, making it to the final as the top two teams in the World Test Championship league table.
Key Players in the Spotlight: Cummins and Shami
Australian captain Pat Cummins has had his fair share of challenges in recent times, both on and off the field. However, he remains one of the premier fast bowlers in world cricket, and his performance in the final could be crucial to Australia’s chances of lifting the trophy. With the absence of Josh Hazlewood due to injury, the onus will be on Cummins to lead Australia’s pace attack and make early inroads into the formidable Indian batting lineup.
With Jasprit Bumrah ruled out due to injury, the responsibility of spearheading India’s pace attack falls on the experienced shoulders of Mohammed Shami. Shami’s deceptive pace and ability to generate movement off the pitch make him a potent threat in English conditions. Despite his modest record in England, his recent form and experience could prove vital in India’s quest for the World Test Championship title.
Team News and Selection Dilemmas
Both teams face some selection dilemmas ahead of the all-important final, with key players missing due to injury and tough calls to make regarding team balance.
Australia has confirmed that Scott Boland will replace the injured Josh Hazlewood in their playing XI. With Peter Handscomb making way for Travis Head at No. 5, David Warner will return to the opening slot, partnering with Usman Khawaja.
Australia’s Likely Playing XI: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 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.
India is likely to bring back Ajinkya Rahane at No. 5, with Sheyas Iyer ruled out due to injury. The choice between KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan for the wicketkeeper’s role could also prove crucial, with both players bringing different skill sets to the table. India’s primary selection headache, however, revolves around whether to play four fast bowlers and one spinner or opt for a balanced attack with R Ashwin partnering Ravindra Jadeja.
India’s Possible Playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 KS Bharat/Ishan Kishan (wk), 8 R Ashwin/Shardul Thakur, 9 Umesh Yadav/Jaydev Unadkat, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohammed Siraj.
Pitch and Weather Conditions
The pitch at The Oval has traditionally offered assistance to both pace and spin bowlers, with bounce being a key factor. However, with the final being held in June, the conditions may be different from what teams usually encounter during the English summer.
The weather forecast for the World Test Championship Final promises clear skies and warm temperatures, with the possibility of rain on the fourth, fifth, and reserve days.
Key Stats and Trivia
- India has won their last four Test series against Australia, all by 2-1 margins.
- Australia and India have near-identical win-loss ratios at The Oval, with Australia winning seven and losing 17 of their 38 Tests, while India has won two and lost five of their 14 matches.
- Virat Kohli is just 21 runs short of becoming the fifth Indian batter to score 2000 Test runs against Australia.
- Steven Smith has an impressive record at The Oval, with 391 runs at an average of 97.75 in three Tests, including two centuries.
The World Test Championship Final 2023 promises to be a thrilling contest between two of the strongest teams in Test cricket. With both sides boasting an array of world-class talent and an intriguing mix of youth and experience, the stage is set for a closely-fought battle.
As the anticipation builds, fans around the world can look forward to a fascinating encounter between India and Australia, with the winner etching their name in cricket history as the World Test Champions.