India face Australia in crucial Test final as players return to game after IPL 2023


Players like Ajinkya Rahane are returning to the Test matches after a long time (ANI)

The WTC final has been scheduled from June 7-11 at the Oval in London; June 12 has been set as a reserve day in the event of rain

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The Indian Test squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia have hit full practice mode ahead of the marquee clash at the iconic Oval on June 7. The official Twitter handle of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared a few pictures of the Indian stars Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav going through their paces before the big encounter. The BCCI captioned its post as “The wait is over. Hello guys, welcome back!”

While the WTC final has been scheduled from June 7-11 at the Oval in London, June 12 has been set as a reserve day in the event of rain.

Several of India’s Test stars will mark their return to international cricket after a long break as they were playing in the IPL back home. A few of India’s regulars in the red-ball format showcased their talent and skills in the shortest format and will go into the WTC final on the back of some incredible performance in the cash-rich, domestic T20 league.

Shubman Gill, who opens for the country in the longest format, hit a purple patch in the IPL and was crowned with the “Orange Cap” after aggregating the most runs in the tournament. Gill ended the IPL 2023 campaign with 890 runs in 17 matches, scoring at an average of 59.33 and a strike rate of 157.80. He has also smashed three hundreds in the season.

Surya also had a great IPL 2023 season, amassing 605 runs in 16 matches at an average of 43.21 and a strike rate of 181.14. He scored one century and five fifties in the just-concluded season of the domestic T20 league.

Falling out of favour with the national selectors after an extended lean patch with the willow, Rahane struck form in this year’s IPL, aggregating 326 runs in 14 matches at an average of 32.60. He also smashed two fifties in the season.

Jadeja, too, shone in all three aspects of the game in this season of the IPL, bringing up 190 runs and also scalping 20 wickets for the eventual champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

Meanwhile, Australia legend Ricky Ponting has suggested that Mohammed Shami has to “step up” and take his game to another level for India to win the final in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia at Oval.

India are set to call on their pacers more at The Oval than in the recent Test series against Australia on home soil when Mohammed Shami sent down 69.1 overs to be the busiest quick. With ongoing injury concerns for Jasprit Bumrah diminishing India’s pace threat, Ponting believes Shami will have to be at his best if they are to match Australia’s acclaimed attack.

“I think he has to step up or try and take his game to another level if India are going to win this game,” Ponting said to ICC.

“When you talk to the Australian batters as well, they understand how good Shami is whether it’s new ball or old ball, whether it’s in Australia or India,” the Former Australian cricketer said.

In the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, Shami performed outstandingly well, he was awarded ‘Purple Cap’ for his clobbering bowling. He had taken 28 wickets in the season with an economy of 8.03 and an average of 18.64. His best bowling spell was 4/1.

Shami has played just three test matches in 2023 where he picked nine scalps with an average of 28.22. He had the best bowling figure of 4/60.

“They know the skillset he’s got and how dangerous he can be. It’s going to have to be him,” Ponting concluded.

India’s squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).

Standby players: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc and David Warner.

Standby players: Mitch Marsh and Matthew Renshaw.

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