WTC Final: Five Reasons Why Australia Can Beat India At The Oval


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Tue 6 Jun 2023, 1:48 AM

India will enter the field on Wednesday for the high-octane World Test Championship final against Australia less than 10 days after the end of the gruelling Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

The biggest challenge for Rohit Sharma's men will not be the formidable Australian team they need to tackle in an attempt to end the trophy drought in ICC events.

The biggest challenge that India faces is switching to the red-ball format from T20 cricket in seaming English conditions where the Australian pace bowlers could pose a serious threat.

As the two teams get ready for the battle at the Oval in London from Wednesday, here are the five reasons why the Aussies have the slight edge over India.

Indians overcooked?

Indian pacer Mohammed Shami. - PTI

Without the injured Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian attack will be led by Mohammed Shami. The 32-year-old is a formidable bowler who will be backed by the talented Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur.

Shami was outstanding in the IPL for the Gujarat Titans and Siraj carried the burden for the misfiring Royal Challengers Bangalore attack.

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But these two pacers have just come back from the two-month long IPL.

Will they now be fresh enough for the rigours of long spells in the five-day format against world-class batters like Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne?

That's the million-dollar question ahead of the big clash in London.

Aussies are fresh

Australia may have suffered a blow in the pace attack when Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of the final due to a side strain.

Hazlewood is the ideal bowler in English conditions with his impeccable consistency outside the off stump.

Australian pacer Mitchell Starc. - PTI

But Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, their two other champion bowlers, skipped the IPL season to be ready for the WTC final and the Ashes, which will start on June 16.

Cummins (29 wickets from five Tests at 19.62) has an outstanding record in England. Starc hasn't really enjoyed the English conditions in the past, but you can't write off this crafty left-arm pacer.

The Dukes ball

In England facing the Dukes ball for the best of the batsmen could be a nightmare with its prodigious swing.

The feet movement will be key for the batters when they face the pace bowlers in overcast conditions.

How easy will it be for the Indian batters that have just come back from the IPL, playing two months of slam-bang cricket against a white ball that doesn't swing?

Smith and Labuschagne, Australia's two premier Test batters, were only focusing on the WTC final and the Ashes (June 16-July 31) for the past two months when the Indian batters were locked in the IPL battle.

Yes, Cheteshwar Pujara did score a lot of runs in the County season. But those runs came against average attack.

It's going to be a different ball game for Pujara who averages 29.60 from 15 Tests in England.

Seizing the moment

India has enjoyed a superior record against Australia in bilateral Test matches at home and abroad since 2017.

But the failure to find the top gear in the big matches at the ICC events has haunted India time and again.

New Zealand outplayed India in the inaugural WTC final two years ago before the team flopped in back-to-back T20 World Cups.

It's against the backdrop of big-event failures that India will take on Australia, a team that knows how to win the big moments in the big tournaments.

Green is the key

Australian all-rounder Cameron Green. - PTI

In Cameron Green, Australia has a world-class all-rounder. Green was outstanding for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. The 24-year-old has also made a fine start to his Test career.

The lanky pace bowler could play a key role by breaking partnerships when the team's strike bowlers need a rest.

On paper, India does have Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, the comeback man.

But what India doesn't have is a batsman who could mix pace with swing.

Green plays that role superbly for Australia.

In seaming English conditions, it's his all-round brilliance could decide this battle.

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Khaleej Times

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