Team India will return to action with one of the biggest games in the 2023 cricket calendar, as the side takes on Australia in the final of the World Test Championship between June 7-11. The final, that takes place at the Oval in England, will see India fighting for the coveted title for the second-successive time; they had conceded a defeat to New Zealand in the first-ever final in 2021. India had qualified for the final after a home series win over the Aussies earlier this year, and next month, Rohit Sharma’s men will be aiming to move past the final heartbreak from two years ago.
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri – who was at the helm during the WTC final against New Zealand – spoke in detail about India’s chances and their potential combination for the ‘ultimate Test’, and made a rather interesting suggestion on the side’s bowling lineup. With India travelling for the final without the services of their star pacer Jasprit Bumrah, Shastri suggested that the team management could be inclined on playing two spinners.
“India did very well in England last time round because you had Bumrah, you had Shami, you had Shardul Thakur, and you had Mohammed Siraj. So you had four fast bowlers. One being an all-rounder there, Shardul,” Shastri said in ICC Review.
“That combination is a very good combination in England. Especially from India’s point of view. It allows someone like Rohit Sharma to control the game far better. At times in England, you need to slow it down as well. And suddenly it can get overcast.
“You have got horses for courses, you’ve got all bases covered. But then if the quality is not good in your fast-bowling attack. If you think the guys are older, they are not as quick as they used to be, and the form is a little doubtful, then you play that second spinner because Ashwin is quality, as is Jadeja,” Shastri explained.
India have three spin options in their squad, with experienced Ashwin and No.1 ranked all-rounder Jadeja joined in the 15-player squad by Axar Patel, who can be his like-for-like replacement if need be. Shastri thinks the option is there for India to select Ashwin as the only specialist spinner and use Jadeja to bat at No 6 should the pitch at The Oval look like it will offer some turn during the later stages.
“If the track is hard and dry, you would want two spinners to play for sure. I think it goes a lot with the weather in England. I believe it’s sunny now at the moment, but you know, English weather, how it can change in the month of June,” Shastri said.
“So there’s a very good chance India will go with two spinners, two fast bowlers and an all-rounder. That will be the combination. And then there’ll be five batsmen and the wicket-keeper, so six batsmen.
“So if all conditions stay normal at The Oval, then this would be my combination, but you’ve got to have the quality to be able to put those guys out in the park.”