Begin typing your search...

Acid test

India faces tough Australia challenge as it aims to end ICC title drought

Acid test

Rohit Sharma and Pat Cummins pose with the mace ahead of WTC final at The Oval

LONDON: A formidable bunch of Indian cricketers will require a perfect blend of skill and temperament when it clashes with an equally-strong Australia in the World Test Championship final, starting Wednesday, with an aim to end a decade-long global trophy jinx.

India has been the most consistent side over the past two WTC cycles and also reached knockout phases of major white-ball tournaments over the last 10 years but a trophy has eluded it.

The last major ICC trophy India won was way back in 2013 when it bagged the Champions Trophy in England. Since then, the side has lost three finals and on four occasions it bit dust at the semifinal stage. It also made an exit at the preliminary stage of the 2021 T20 World Cup.

The country has been pretty much driving the finances of the sport and considering the vast talent pool on offer, the expectations of dominating the game on field seem only fair.

Out of the six series India played in this cycle, its only series loss came in South Africa and that led to an unexpected change of guard with Rohit Sharma taking over the leadership role from Virat Kohli.

It remained unconquerable at home, drew a hard-fought series in England before surviving a slight scare in Bangladesh. India ignored the conditions and went with its traditional strength – two spinners – against the Black Caps in the final at Southampton two years ago but the move backfired.

As The Oval gears up to host its first ever Test in June in its 143-year existence, India is heading into the unknown and faces a couple of key selection calls that might decide the fate of the game.

It will always be a temptation to play both Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin in the same team but considering that it is only the start of the summer and pitches are fresh, there is a strong case for a fourth pace bowling option.

In the batting department, Rishabh Pant is not available to bail the team out in case of a top-order collapse. Therefore, the management needs to decide whether it needs the ‘X-factor’ of Ishan Kishan or the more reliable wicket-keeping skills of K S Bharat.

The wily Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj pick themselves in the pace department and a call needs to be made between old-horse Umesh Yadav and all-rounder Shardul Thakur.

Majority of India’s squad members were involved in two-month long IPL and only got a week to train together in the scenic town of Arundel before heading to London.

As a modern-day cricketer, one is expected to smoothly switch formats but playing Test cricket in England is never easy.

The job gets tougher when one has to face the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland, who is expected to start in place of injured Josh Hazlewood.

It is being as billed as the ‘Ultimate Test’ and it will indeed be one for proven performers like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as well for a rising star like Shubman Gill. Cheteshwar Pujara will look to extend the rich form he has shown in County cricket while Ajinkya Rahane will be itching to deliver in his comeback game.

Next Story