A formidable group of Indian cricketers will need the perfect blend of skill and temperament as they face an equally strong Australia in the World Testing Cup final starting on Wednesday, aiming to end a decade-long global trophy curse. India has been the most consistent team over the past two WTC cycles and has also reached the playoffs of major white ball tournaments in the last 10 years, but the trophy has eluded them. The last major ICC trophy won by India was back in 2013 when they won the Champions Trophy in England.
Since then, the team has lost three finals and reached the semi-finals four times. He also qualified for the 2021 T20 World Championship preliminary. The country largely manages the finances of the sport, and given the huge potential for talent on offer, expectations of dominance in the game on the pitch seem fair.
Of the six series played by India in this cycle, their only series loss came in South Africa, leading to a surprise changing of the guard with Rohit Sharma taking over from Virat Kohli.
They remained undefeated at home, drawing a series of hard-fought fights in England before suffering a bit of fear in Bangladesh.
Winning big titles defines a team’s legacy, but whatever the outcome of the Oval final, head coach Rahul Dravid of India will not change his mind about his team.
“In the context of things, you look at this and you see that this is the culmination of two years of work. This is the culmination of the great success that brought you here,” Dravid said ahead of the title battle.
“Winning a series in Australia, a series of draws here, high competitiveness everywhere this team has played in the world over the last five or six years. I think these are things that will never change just because you have or don’t have the ICC trophy,” he said.
Need to learn from past mistakes
India defied the terms and came up with their traditional strength of two spinners against the Black Caps in the Southampton final two years ago, but the move backfired.
As The Oval prepares to host its first test in June in its 143 years of existence, India heads into the unknown and faces a couple of key elimination challenges that could decide the game’s fate.
There will always be a temptation to play with Ravindra Jadea and R. Ashvin on the same team, but given that it’s only the beginning of summer and the pitches are fresh, there’s good reason to go for fourth pace bowling.
In the batting department, Rishabh Pant is unable to bail out the team in the event of a higher order crash. So management needs to decide if it needs Ishan Kishan’s x-factor or K.S.’s more reliable wicket-keeping skills. Bharata. The treacherous Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj choose themselves in the tempo department, and a choice must be made between old horse Umesh Yadav and all-rounder Shardul Thakur.
Fast transition from IPL to red ball cricket
Most of the members of Team India participated in the two-month IPL and only had a week to train together in the picturesque town of Arundel before heading to London.
The modern cricketer is expected to switch formats smoothly, but playing Test cricket in England is never easy.
The job becomes more difficult when you have to face the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Stark and Scott Boland, who is expected to start in place of the injured Josh Hazlewood.
This is also billed as the “Ultimate Test” and will indeed be a test for proven performers like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, as well as rising star like Shubman Gill. Cheteswar Pujara will look to build on the rich form he showed in county cricket while Ajinkya Rahane will be itching to prove himself in his comeback game.
For Australia, it’s a “warm-up” for the high-stakes Ashes.
Compared to the Indians, who are in good shape after a long IPL season, the Aussies will come into the final fresher in mind and body.
Only three of their players were part of the Indian league. Players like Cummins preferred to train at home, while Marnus Labouchan and Steve Smith prepared for a long summer in the county.
The game may well be decided by how the highest order of any team is combined with a high pace. After a prolific couple of seasons, No. 1 seed Usman Khawaja is expected to shine on the big stage, and David Warner is expected to prove himself right in the twilight of his career.
Smith’s average in this stadium is approaching 100 and India will need to get rid of him before he takes the game out of their hands.
No matter how the surface behaves, experienced freerider Nathan Lyon will continue to ask questions, and Cameron Green’s contribution as an all-rounder will be invaluable.
Australia: Pat Cummins (Captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labouchagne, Nathan Lyon, Josh Inglis, Todd Murphy, Steve Smith, Mitchell Stark, David Warner.
Reserves:Mitchell Marsh, Matt Renshaw.
India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, K.S. Bharat, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Aksar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Jaidev Unadakt, Umesh Yadav.
Reserves: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav.
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