The stage is set for the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 final at the Oval between India and Australia. The high-profile final starts on June 7 as both sides aim to claim their maiden WTC honour. India played the 2019-21 WTC final against New Zealand and were blown away by Kane Williamson & Co.
Once again, with the final now on England’s shores, India need a solid approach. Australia have the desired depth to cause Indian batters problems. Meanwhile, India, too, will look to make their presence felt. We look at the key player battles on offer ahead of crunch battles on the cards.
Pat Cummins vs Rohit Sharma
Pat Cummins will like to extract the bounce and swing on offer at the Kennington Oval. He will be aiming to make things count with the new ball. Tacking Rohit Sharma presents a solid challenge for Cummins. Once settled at the crease, Rohit will look to score runs effectively. He enjoys playing the pull shot, and Cummins here will have a chance, given Rohit also has his shortcomings against the same. So far, Cummins has dismissed Rohit on three counts in Test cricket across 8 innings. Rohit has also enjoyed facing his counterpart, scoring 109 runs at an average of 70.32.
Mitchell Starc vs Virat Kohli
Mitchell Starc will be a thorn for this Indian side, given his experience and firm abilities to get those inswingers coming hard. Cummins will be tempted to throw the ball to Starc in order to ruffle Virat Kohli‘s feathers early on. Kohli has over 1000 runs on English soil at an average of over 30, and he will want to banish any shortcomings. Across 17 innings, Kohli has scored 219 runs at 73.00 against Starc. However, he has also been dismissed on three occasions.
Mohammed Shami vs David Warner
Mohammed Shami will spearhead India’s attack, and his resolve against the Aussie openers, particularly David Warner, will be an exciting contest. Shami will look for swing; his tight offerings could put Warner in a spot of bother. Warner has struggled of late in Test cricket and is shy of scoring desired runs. In seven innings so far, Warner has scored 81 runs against Shami at 40.50. However, the right-arm speedster has claimed the southpaw’s wicket on two occasions. Warner is yet to dispatch Shami for a six.
R Ashwin vs Steve Smith
Indian ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be eager to perform well in England. In 7 Test matches here, he has 18 scalps at 28.11. He has an economy rate of 2.52. Ashwin will be keen to keep someone like Steve Smith quiet. Smith is an excellent player of spin and has a solid record in England. So far, the star Aussie batter has scored 1727 runs on English soil at 59.55. However, across 16 Tests, he has been dismissed by spinners on eight counts. Smith has enjoyed batting versus Ashwin in Tests, averaging 54.25. He has scored 434 runs, besides being dismissed nine times.
Mohammed Siraj vs Usman Khawaja
Mohammed Siraj has a key role on offer in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence. He has bowled well of late in Tests and has an impressive record versus Australia. Siraj wants to unsettle someone like Usman Khawaja, who has been one of the highlights in the WTC 2021-23 cycle. Siraj has bowled in just three innings to Khawaja, claiming his wicket once. Khawaja has faced 38 balls, scoring 13 runs. Against the Aussies, Siraj claimed 14 wickets from 10 innings at 32.64.