WTC 2023 final: India, Australia get ready for final conquest
London/UNI: Australia and India seemed to be relaxed, but are ready for the World Test Championship finals beginning at The Oval here on Wednesday.
The relaxed nature of both the teams ahead of the big match has been noteworthy in this age of round-the-year cricket for the world’s top players, where the process of acclimatisation and warm-up matches find no place.
One player who didn’t appear to have received the relaxation memo was Australia’s perpetually-moving Steve Smith.
The fidgety run-machine remained out in the middle in Australia’s final net session on Tuesday long after all other players had departed The Oval, leaving the rather amusing sight of around a dozen coaches all throwing down or watching one of the modern-day greats hone his game.
Smith will start at number four all being well for a settled Australian side that will contain ‘no surprises’ in selection, at least according to Cummins. That means David Warner will continue to partner Usman Khawaja at the top of the order, with Scott Boland the replacement for the injured Josh Hazlewood as the third quick.
In contrast, India have remained tight-lipped on the make-up of their side for the WTC Final, with a number of selection decisions to be made.
The first and most prominent will be whether both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja should start, leaving three rather than four spots available for the quicker bowlers.
With the forecast suggesting a largely sunny run of days in London and The Oval’s pitch typically offering slightly more for spinners than the average English Test ground, it is possible that India will opt for the spin twins.
If India do opt for both spinners then that would leave Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat competing for the third seamer spot, with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj expected to open the bowling.
And the final selection question mark hanging over the Indian XI is who will line up behind the stumps.
KS Bharat is the man in possession and is the player expected to get the nod, but the match-winning potential of Ishan Kishan is an option.
Play will start slightly earlier each day than the typical start time for Tests in England, with the first ball set to be bowled at 10:30 local time.
And the Dukes ball will be used, potentially giving the bowlers a greater chance of finding movement should there be overhead cloud conditions.
That relaxation will soon make way for first-morning nerves when the players head out for the anthems. After all, the World Test Championship mace is at stake.