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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

India bowling line-up for WTC Final still a mystery for Australia


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London: Australia are preparing to face star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja in the ICC World Test Championship Final, but remain unsure whether veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will join him in India’s XI.

While the Australia XI looks relatively settled ahead of the June 7 clash at The Oval, there is still plenty of conjecture around the make-up of India’s team and especially surrounding their bowlers.

India utilised three spinners during the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy series on the sub-continent and Ashwin (25 wickets) and Jadeja (22) were in superb touch as they helped the hosts register a

2-1 triumph.

But Jadeja and Ashwin failed to have their usual impact when featuring in India’s team that lost the inaugural World Test Championship Final to New Zealand in 2021, and it remains to be seen whether the pair will be given the chance again this time around or selectors opt for a more pace orientated line-up, the ICC reported.

Experienced seamers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj are almost certain to share the new ball for Rohit Sharma’s side, while Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat are also in contention alongside recalled all-rounder Shardul Thakur.

Australia assistant coach Daniel Vettori spoke with local media prior to Australia’s training session at the Kent Country Cricket Ground in Beckenham on Thursday and the New Zealander revealed there had been plenty of discussion among the coaching group surrounding what sort of XI India will field in south London.

“We have been debating that,” Vettori admitted.

“I think Jadeja will play because of the batting he brings to the table and how successful he has been at that No.6 position,” he said.

“Then the question will be around that fourth seamer and the all-rounder in Thakur and Ashwin, but they are (both) pretty good choices,” Vettori said.

Ashwin’s record in England is decent – the right-armer has a total of 18 wickets at an average of 28.11 from seven matches – but surprisingly the 36-year-old has only ever played one Test at The Oval.

That match was way back in 2014 against England where Ashwin collected figures of 3/72, but the veteran has since boosted his resume and is currently India’s second leading Test wicket-taker (474) of all time.

“Ashwin is an incredible bowler and he will be first choice in most teams, and just with their combinations it may lead to that (him missing selection),” Vettori said.

“We expect The Oval to behave how it always behaves,” he said.

“It is a good wicket, but it can offer a lot to the spinners as the game goes on,” Vettori added.


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