India faces Australia in the World Test Championship final 2023 at the Kennington Oval ground from Tuesday in London, England.
Australia reached the final topping the WTC 2021-23 cycle points table with 66.67 points percentage (PCT) in its 19 matches followed by India at the second spot with a 58.8 PCT in 18 games.
India will play its second WTC final, this time under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, while Pat Cummins will lead Australia to its first final of the Test championship.
The two teams met earlier this year in a four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series which India won 2-1 at home and confirmed its place to once again meet Australia in the final.
While Australia is looking set to unleash its stacked bowling lineup comprising Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon, the Jasprit Bumrah-less Indian bowling attack will bank on Mohammad Shami & Co. to challenge the Australian batting lineup.
Let’s look at the key battles to watch out for in the WTC final 2023:
1) India top five vs Starc: The probable Indian top five batters – Rohit, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane – have always done well against the left-arm pace of Starc. While Rohit and Gill re yet to be dismissed by Starc in Tests, Pujara, Kohli, and Rahane have a combined average of 77.8 against him.
All five batters have fared well against the left-arm pacers in recent times, including the seaming conditions in England.
Further, Starc has a poor record playing at The Oval – four innings, three wickets, 3.09 economy, 66 average, and a best of 3/140.
2) Warner vs Indian spinners and Umesh Yadav: The swashbuckling left-handed Australian opener generally struggles to face both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Warner averages 17.63 and gets out every 38 balls facing Ashwin. Against Jadeja, the left hander averages 14.75 and gets out every 22 balls.
Warner versus Umesh will be an interesting battle to watch where the Aussie strikes at more than 113 but also gets out every 26 balls facing the right-hand pacer. Umesh has dismissed Warner six times in Test matches.
3) Indian middle order vs Cummins: India’s middle order will most likely include Pujara, Kohli, and Rahane. It is no secret that the trio isn’t in its best form in Tests. Since 2020, Pujara is averaging 25, Kohli 28, and Rahane 24 against right arm pace.
Cummins averages 19.62 and strikes every 43 balls in seam-friendly conditions of England. The last time he bowled at The Oval, he picked up a five-wicket haul.
The trio will face a tough task facing Cummins against whom it has a combined average of 26.
4) Smith vs Ashwin: Until 2020, Smith had an upper hand against Ashwin where he averaged 116 against the off-spinner and only got out thrice. However, things have changed significantly since then, as Ashwin has got him out five times in 11 innings. Since 2020, Smith averages 17.2 against Ashwin and gets out every 39 balls.
5) Labuschagne vs Jadeja: During the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023, Jadeja got Australia number three Marnus Labuschagne out four times in eight innings. The right-handed batter averaged 16 against the slow left arm spinner during the four-match series. Overall, Jadeja has got Labuschagne out five times in tests in 11 innings.
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