India has managed to secure the final spot in the World Test Championship with a 2-1 victory on home soil against Australia.
The Aussies had already secured a place in the coveted final securing an unlikely 9 wicket-win over India in Indore in the third Test. The Indians place in the final required either a win or a draw in the final est in Ahmedabad.
Rohit Sharma’s men didn’t completely have destiny in their own hands. Sri Lanka was the other side competing to feature in the final but needed to clean-sweep the Kiwis in their two-match series in New Zealand. A final ball thriller that was hampered by rain and fading light saw New Zealand win by 2 wickets thanks to Kane Williamson’s 121 not out.
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The Black Caps win saw Sri Lanka miss the final by the barest of margins. A draw in the fourth test was enough to see India progress to their second World Test Championship Final to take place at the Oval against Australia from the 7-11th of June.
India will be looking to avenge the misery of the first-ever edition of the World Test Championship at the historical home of cricket Lords in 2021 after losing to New Zealand by 8 wickets.
ICC agreements and commercial agreements have made it harder for Lords to host the one of show-piece events, with it being moved to The Oval. The venue change might be the biggest win for India as they had a resounding win against England last time out.
New Indian captain Rohit Sharma was the star of the show making second innings 127 to storm over England by 157 runs in swing-friendly conditions. The makeup of the Indian squad for the final would look very different to the team that featured against Australia.
World-class spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin would struggle to make their case to pack their bags for England. Ravindra Jadeja would likely be called into the side as a batting-bowler rather than a specialised bowling option.
Shardul Thakur, who has also been a regular feature of the Indian side to tour England, would feature as part of a four-prong pace attack with Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj. India’s swing king has been dealt a massive blow for 2023 with Jasprit Bumrah set to miss a large portion of the year with a back injury. The BCCI has also confirmed that he will also miss the Test finally.
The most glaring fault in the Indian line-up was behind the stumps. KS Bharat was left to fill the big shoes left by Rishabh Pant, who was involved in a fiery car crash ruling himself out for a large proportion of cricket this year.
Bharat wasn’t able to adjust his keeping and batting to the conditions failing to take catches and impact the scoreboard in a damaging way to Pant. Bharat did play a swashbuckling 44 off 88 with three sixes and two fours but his best was few and far between. Ishan Kishan does loom as the band-aid solution in England to fill a void. Kishan is yet to make his debut for In India at Test level but could inject a sense of youthful exuberance to the side.
The road leading up to the final is set to be filled with white ball cricket with India to play in what some are calling an irrelevant three one-dayers against Australia starting on Friday in Mumbai. The fixtures provide fans with a window into both sides’ line-up and pitch conditions ahead of the one-day World Cup later in the year in India.
The 50-over series leads into the glamourous IPL season which is the final hit out of professional cricket before the encounter with Australia at the Oval.
Several red-ball cricketers have chosen to hone their craft and take full advantage of English county cricket. Indian number three Cheteshwar Pujara has chosen Sussex as his desired destination in the English domestic competition.
The 35-year-old will team up with former Australia captain Steve Smith to get a better understanding of English conditions. Out of favour former stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane will also be looking to make a name for himself at English county side Leicestershire.