The 2021-2023 World Test Championship is set to culminate in a final between Australia and India. The two sides will meet in the title clash to be played at London’s Kennington Oval from 7 to 11 June 2023. Australia qualified for the final by winning 11 tests to top the WTC table. India who won 10 tests came second.
The two sides have met each other in 106 tests. Australia lead the H2H with 44 wins against 32 losses. However, Australia and India have never before met at a neutral venue.
Australia’s last test match at Kennington Oval
Australia last played a test match at Kennington Oval in September 2019. In that match, England batted first and scored 294, on the back of innings by Burns (47), Root (57) and Buttler (70). For Australia, Cummins (3/84) and Marsh (4/46) were the most successful bowlers.
When Australia replied, they were bowled out for 225. Labuschagne (48) and Smith (80) were the only batters to play substantial innings. For England, Archer (6/62) and Curran (3/46) were the main wicket takers.
England scored 329 in their second knock thanks to Denly (94), Stokes (67) and Buttler (47). Lyons (4/69), Cummins (2/67) and Marsh (2/40) took the wickets.
Chasing 399 to win, Australia collapsed to be all out for 263. Wade (117) made the only substantial contribution. For England, Broad and Leach took four wickets each.
India’s last test match at Kennington Oval
India last played a test at this venue in September 2021. Batting first, they were bowled out for 191, thanks to fifties by Kohli and Thakur. Robinson (3/38) and Woakes (4/55) were the main wicket takers. In reply, England scored 290. Pope and Woakes made half-centuries, while Yadav (3/76) was India’s best bowler.
In their second innings, India made 466, thanks mainly to a ton by Sharma (127). Additionally, Pujara, Pant and Thakur made fifties. England’s Robinson and Woakes were once again among the wickets. Chasing 368 to win, England were bowled out for 210. Once again, Yadav, Thakur, and Jadeja were among the wickets.
Sunny weather is predicted for the 1st day. Strong cloud cover with intermittent rain for the 3rd day. The team winning the toss should bat first and make use of the best batting conditions prevailing on the first two days. Both teams have seam bowlers who can exploit the seam-friendly conditions predicted for the 3rd day onwards.
The last match played here was a County Championship Division One game between Kent and Surrey from 18 – 20 May, 2023. In that match, Kent who won the toss and batted made 278 and 141 in their two innings. Surrey made 362 and 58/0 to win by 10 wickets. All the wickets were taken by seamers. Surrey’s Lawes was the most successful bowler of the match, taking 3/41 and 5/22 in his two outings. Surrey’s Clark who took 3/61 and 3/36 was the next best bowler on display. As we have seen, seam-friendly conditions are likely to prevail, especially from day three onwards. While Australia are likely to field four seamers and a lone spinner, India could play three seamers and two spinners.
The match is at Kennington Oval in London. Ground conditions and weather could influence team selection. We predict that the following players will represent the two sides in the upcoming test:
Australia: Warner, Khawaja, Labuschagne, Smith, Head, Green, Carey, Starc, Cummins, Lyon, Boland
India: Sharma, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Jadeja, KS Bharat, Ashwin, Thakur, Shami, Siraj
Australia are likely to go with a lone spinner in the form of Lyon. However, India could field both Jadeja and Ashwin. The inclusion of Ashwin who has five test centuries would give India great batting depth, right up to Thakur at number nine.
The teams are well matched in the bowling department. Australian bowlers Starc, Cummins, Green and Boland are adequate to the task of exploiting seam friendly conditions. Lyon provides a more-than-competent spin back up. For India, the trio of Shami, Siraj and Thakur can prove a handful for any batters at the Oval. Likewise, Jadeja and Ashwin are among the world’s most accomplished spinners.
However, India have a clear edge in batting. From the evidence of the recently concluded IPL, Shubman Gill is in hot form as are Rahane and Kohli. Pujara has had a successful stint in county cricket and is thoroughly familiar with the prevailing conditions. India would have liked to see Pant in the eleven. However, they should be happy with the likes of Jadeja and Srikar Bharat, followed by Ashwin and Thakur.
Australia have brilliant top order batters in Warner, Khawaja, Labuschagne, Smith and Head. However, they don’t have batting depth to match India’s. And that could prove the winning difference.
We predict that India will beat Australia to become the World Test Champions of 2023.
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