On Wednesday, cricket enthusiasts around the globe will witness a monumental clash between India and Australia in the World Test Championship (WTC) Final. Pat Cummins’ Australian squad, which finished as the highest-ranked team over the two-year tournament, will square off against their fierce rivals India. The match is set to take place in London, marking a thrilling climax to the ICC World Test Championship.
This biennial tournament had nine teams – Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, India, and Australia – vying for a place in the grand finale. The countries were ranked based on the % (percentage) of points won in eligible Test matches.
In 2021, the inaugural WTC Final saw New Zealand decimate India at the Rose Bowl in England. This time around, the stakes have been raised even higher, with the eye-catching sceptre-like trophy going to the winner of the final match, marking the end of the two-year cycle.
Aside from the significant prestige that comes with being crowned the world’s best Test side, there’s also a hefty monetary reward up for grabs. The winner will walk away with a substantial $2.4 million, while the runner-up will receive a still significant sum of $1.2 million. If the match ends in a tie or a draw, both teams will share the honours and be jointly crowned as the World Test Champions.
The Oval, in London, has been chosen as the battleground for this historic Test match. This marks the first time in their 76-year-long Test history that India and Australia will be competing at a neutral venue. Traditionally, The Oval has been England’s most spin-friendly deck. However, recent reports suggest that the pitch is expected to be quite quick, suitable for batting, and may start to spin as the match progresses.
Unfortunately, both teams will have to grapple with key injuries. For India, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant is still recuperating from a car accident he suffered in December last year. Additionally, quick bowler Jasprit Bumrah and batters Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul will be missing the final due to injuries.
In their absence, the team will rely heavily on veteran Ajinkya Rahane, who will return to the Test arena for the first time in more than 18 months, alongside seasoned players Cheteswar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma.
Australia, on the other hand, will miss fast bowler Josh Hazlewood due to concerns over his side muscle and Achilles. He will be replaced by in-form quick Michael Neser, and it appears Scott Boland will likely come into the settled starting XI, having shown promising form in County cricket. The bowling quarter of Boland, Mitchell Starc, skipper Pat Cummins, and spinner Nathan Lyon will be looking forward to bowling on a pitch similar to what they’re used to at home.
The match will kick off at 8 pm AEST (10.30 am local) on Wednesday. Australian fans can catch the action live on Channel 7 from 7.30 pm (AEST) each evening, with pre-match coverage starting half an hour before the first ball. Indian viewers can tune in to Star Sports, while UK fans can watch the game on Sky Sports. Fans from other regions can access the match for free on ICC.tv.
Despite the adversity, both sides are brimming with anticipation and prepared to put on a show that will go down in the annals of cricket history. The stage is set for a thrilling showdown between two of the world’s top cricketing nations, promising an intense competition and a Test match to remember. Cricket fans, get ready to experience a week filled with drama, excitement, and world-class cricket in the heart of London. It’s time to see who will emerge victorious and take home the coveted World Test Championship trophy.