The pinnacle of Test cricket

June 4, 2023

The pinnacle of Test cricket

Australia and India, packed with superstars of world cricket, will battle for supremacy in the longest format of the game

The final of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) between Australia and India will be played at The Oval, London, from June 7 to 11 with 12 June the reserve day.

It is the second consecutive Test Championship final for India. The first Test championship final was played in June 2021 between New Zealand and India and won by New Zealand by eight wickets.

Kiwis chased down the target of 139 for the loss of two wickets to win the first-ever World Test title. Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand was the Player of the match, while skipper Kane William-son was declared the Player of the series.

Test cricket between India and Australia has a unique importance. It’s the first time that the two strong rivals will meet against each other at a neutral venue.

The Indians will contest with confidence as they not only defeated Australia at home in February-March but also won the last two series Down Under in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

India have been one of the strongest Test teams in recent years. They have a strong batting lineup with Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, and Rohit Sharma.

The Indians are likely to rely on their lower-order batsmen, including Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Ravi-chandran Ashwin to repeat their performance against Australia.

India’s success in Test cricket has largely been built on their strong home record. Their spinners, especially Ashwin, have been exceptional in home conditions. Their away record has also improved significantly in recent years, and they have performed well in countries like Australia, England, and South Africa.

Australia, historically one of the powerhouses of Test cricket, have a strong batting lineup, including Steve Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Lab-uschagne, who have been consistently performing at the highest level.

Their bowling attack, led by the pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood, is known for its ability to take wickets in any conditions. Nathan Lyon will handle the spin department.

Australia’s home advantage is well-known, and they have a formidable record on their own soil. However, they have also shown resilience in away matches, particularly in England, where they have had success in Ashes contests.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has backed Australia “because of the conditions. If this game was played in India, I would say this was a really hard game for Australia to win. If this game was played in Australia, I would say Aussies are the heavy favourites, but the fact that this game is being played in England probably brings both sides a little bit closer together. Having played at The Oval a fair bit, the conditions will be much more similar to an Australian pitch than an Indian wicket. Therefore, I am giving a slight advantage to Australia,” he told the media.

On the other hand, former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar has predicted that India will outperform Australia. He believes that India’s strong batting lineup can destroy Australia’s bowling attack, and that if India bats first and scores a significant total in the first two days, they may not even need to bat in the second innings.

Gavaskar is confident in India’s ability to out-bat Australia, given their batting depth, including Ravichandran Ashwin, who has five Test hundreds to his name.

Australia have secured their spot in their first ICC World Test Championship final following their resounding 9-wicket win in the third Test against India of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Currently the top-ranked side, Australia have not lost a series during the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23. During this period Australia defeated England 4-0 at home, Pakistan 1-0 away, drew 1-1 in Sri Lanka, and beat both the West Indies and South Africa 2-0 at home.

India reached the final after Sri Lanka lost on day 5 of the Christchurch Test against New Zealand by two wickets. Sri Lanka needed to clean-sweep New Zealand in order to seal the final spot, but Kane Williamson’s heroics with the bat and Daryl Mitchell helped India reach the final.

Given the strengths of both teams, the Test Championship final promises to be an intense and closely fought battle. The outcome could heavily depend on the pitch conditions, as both teams have the resources to exploit different surfaces.

India’s spinners might play a crucial role if the match takes place on a turning track, while Australia’s pacers could pose a significant threat if the pitch offers assistance to fast bowling.

The battle between the Indian batsmen and the Australian pacers, as well as the contest between the Australian batsmen and the Indian spinners, will likely be key in determining the outcome of the match.

The 2019-2021 ICC World Test Championship was the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship of Test cricket. It started on 1 August 2019 with the first Test of the 2019 Ashes series, and finished with the final at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, in June 2021.

It came nearly a decade after the International Cricket Council (ICC) first approved the idea for a World Test Championship in 2010, following two cancelled attempts in 2013 and 2017.

It featured nine of the twelve Test-playing nations.

The final holds a major financial incentive as the winners will get $1.6 million. The losing finalists will receive $800,000.

South Africa have earned $450,000 by finishing third in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 standings. England ending fourth on the table will get $350,000. Sri Lanka, who were in the running for a place in the final before their series defeat in New Zealand, dropped down to the fifth spot. Their prize money share is $200,000.

Sixth-placed New Zealand, seventh-placed Pakistan, eighth-placed West Indies and ninth-placed Bangladesh will be given $100,000 each.

The pinnacle of Test cricket