A look at things Indian side should worry about ahead of WTC final against Australia

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LONDON: India will take on Australia in the final of the ICC World Test Championship at The Oval from June 7 onwards. While it is India’s second successive final in the tournament and comes after plenty of good performances throughout the year, including against England in the UK, the title clash has brought with it a set of worries as well.

India has some things that they will surely worry about, stay concerned about and look forward to rectify during the high-stakes match.
– The poor record of middle-order batters at The Oval

Indian middle-order batters Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have a worrisome record at this venue. Virat’s record has not been very encouraging though it is modest at best. In his three matches at the venue, he has scored 169 runs at an average of 28.16, with just one half-century, a knock of 50. His six innings include two single-digit scores, including a duck.

Pujara, India’s rock-solid number three has a shaky record at the venue as well. In three Tests, he has scored 117 runs at an average of 19.50, with just one fifty. His six innings, consist of three single-digit scores, including a duck.

Rahane is the worst-performing of all three on this ground. In six innings across three Tests, Rahane has scored only 55 runs at an average of 9.17, with the best score of 37.

The trio’s overall records in England are not very great either.

Virat’s overall record in England stands at 16 matches, 1,033 runs at an average of 33.32. He has scored two centuries and five fifties, with best score of 149. After a horror tour back in 2014, Virat bounced back in style during the 2018 tour to England, topping the run-charts with 593 runs in five matches, 10 innings at an average of 59.30, with two centuries and three fifties.

Pujara has played 15 Tests in England and has scored 829 runs at an average of 29.60, with one century and five fifties in 30 innings, with the best score of 132*.

In Tests in England, Rahane has scored 729 runs in 15 matches, 29 innings at an average of 26.03, with a century and five fifties.

– Steve Smith’s outstanding record at The Oval

The star Australian batter has an incredible record at The Oval and will be a player to watch out for. In three Tests, Smith has scored 391 runs at an average of 97.75. He has scored two centuries and a fifty in his five innings here.

Smith’s Test record in England is just as intimidating. In 16 matches, Smith has scored 1,727 runs at an average of 59.55, with six centuries and seven fifties in 30 innings, with best score of 215. Indian bowlers will have to do something really magical to dismiss him and getting him early will be a key to win.

– Select KS Bharat or Ishan Kishan?

Both Indian wicketkeeper-batters are in the team in the absence of star player Rishabh Pant. Pant has played a lot of impactful innings in his Test career so far and Team India will surely miss that impact. In England, Pant has scored 556 runs in nine Tests at an average of 32.70, with two centuries and two fifties in 17 innings, with best score of 146.

Though KS Bharat has some English experience, having scored 70* in a practice match during India’s tour to England back in 2022 against Leicestershire, he is still inexperienced. In 4 Tests played so far, he has scored just 101 runs at an average of 20.20, with best score of 44. Kishan on the other hand, capable of hitting it big like Pant, would find it difficult to adjust to English conditions in Tests, a format he is yet to play. He has just played one T20I in England, in which he scored eight runs.

Both keeper batters are inexperienced and Team India cannot do anything about it, especially with KL Rahul, one of India’s alternate keeper options, out due to injury. In nine Tests in England, Rahul has scored 614 runs at an average of 34.11, with two centuries and a fifty in 18 innings.

Kishan has scored 2,985 runs in 48 first-class matches at an average of 38.76 and six centuries and 16 fifties. On the other hand, in 90 FC matches, Bharat has 4,808 runs at an average of 37.27, with nine centuries and 27 fifties.

Australia ended at the top of the WTC table with 11 wins, three losses, and five draws in 19 matches whereas India ended in second position with 10 wins, five losses and three draws.

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: Suryakumar Yadav, Mukesh Kumar and Yashasvi Jaiswal

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

Standby players: Mitch Marsh, and Matthew Renshaw. (ANI)

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