The 2nd edition of the World Test Championship is set to conclude with the grand finale that is set to take place at the iconic Oval Stadium in London starting on the 7th of June. The final match of the 2-year WTC cycle will feature two of the top sides in the world of cricket- India and Australia, and they are all set to stake a claim to be the best Test side in the world.

While India is the top-ranked Test side in the world and among the best in the limited-over formats, an ICC trophy is something that is missing from the cabinet. Their last win in an ICC tournament final came in 2013, when they won the ICC Champions Trophy, beating England at Edgbaston. Since then, the men in blue have not been able to clinch an elusive World Cup in both the formats of the game (ODI and T20I).

Even in the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, India under Virat Kohli reached the final but eventually lost to New Zealand, thereby forgoing another chance.

Read: World Test Championship 2019-2021 – Complete Stats

Two years since then, Team India is all set to play its 2nd WTC Final in as many editions, and this time, their opponents will be New Zealand’s neighbours Australia who topped the points table during the league phase of the WTC 2021-2023 edition. India came at the 2nd, fighting off a stiff battle from the likes of South Africa and Sri Lanka. They have a great chance to rewrite history and become the first side in history to all 4 existing ICC World tournaments- ICC Cricket World, T20 WWorldCup, Champions Trophy, and WTC.

But for that, they have to overcome the Australian side, which looks like a solid side, and gave India a run for their money in the recent Border-Gavaskar trophy held in India. The home team eventually won 2-1, but they should be wary of this very strong opposition. They have been hit with several injury concerns going into the all-important final clash, with the likes of Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, and Jasprit Bumrah all missing due to their respective injuries. Still, they boast a strong squad that can topple the 5-time World Cup champions Australia.

India Squad for the WTC 2023 Final: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, KS Bharat, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadakt, Umesh Yadav

Reserves: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav

So what would be the probably XI for Team India in the upcoming final game of WTC?

Openers: Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill

Rohit Sharma will lead the side in this all-important clash, and his Test record in recent times has been exceptional. Rohit has been India’s best batter by far in the World Test Championship across 2 editions averaging over 52 with 1794 runs in 22 Test matches. Though his form in the recent IPL has not been great, the skipper is a much-improved Test player and is expected to lead from the front.

Shubman Gill will partner Rohit at the top just like the first WTC Final, which India played 2 years back against New Zealand, but this time as the most in-form player going around in the world cricket. Having scored 980 runs in international cricket in 2023 thus far with 5 centuries in just 18 innings and a stellar IPL season to back that up, Gill will have to come good if India is to clinch the WTC title.

Top and Middle-order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravindra Jadeja

Cheteshwar Pujara is easily the most equipped player in English conditions in the current Indian team, having played quite a lot for his county side Sussex in the ongoing season. Pujara has scored 3 centuries and a half-century leading the side in the 8 innings he batted thus far. His good form in England will be invaluable from India’s point of view regarding the WTC Final.

Virat Kohli seems to be back to his very in all the formats of the game, and he gave a glimpse of it in the recent IPL season, where he scored back-to-back centuries for RCB and ended up with 639 runs in the season. His favorite opponent undoubtedly is Australia, against whom he scored a big century (186) in the last Test innings he played earlier this year.

Ajinkya Rahane has returned to the Test team after being away for over a year. His good form in the Ranji Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy, coupled with a brilliant IPL season for CSK, ensured he couldn’t be overlooked, especially in the absence of players like Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari. Suryakumar Yadav is part of the reserve and is in good form, but it’s highly unlikely that SKY would get a nod ahead of Rahane.

Ravindra Jadeja walks into the playing XI, and one of his 3 Test centuries has come in England. The wicket at the Oval is known to be batting-friendly and aids the spinners as the game progresses. So it is a no-brainer that an all-rounder of such quality whose batting average is close to 36 and bowling average is less than 25 will walk into the team.

Wicketkeeper: KS Bharat

The absence of Rishabh Pant has left a big void in India’s middle order, weakening the batting a little. KS Bharat is primed to take up the role ahead of Ishan Kishan at this stage. Kishan is a player similar in mindset to Pant but is uncapped at the Test level. So most likely, Bharat will don the gloves despite a mediocre start to his Test career, where he made just 101 in the 4 Tests he played earlier this year.

Bowlers: Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami, Shardul Thakur, and Umesh Yadav/ Ravichandran Ashwin

India has been producing a lot of talented pacers in recent years, and one such success story is the rise of Mohammad Siraj. The fast bowler has improved leaps and bounds to become India’s go-to bowler across formats and is expected to play a vital role in the WTC Final against Australia. His ability to take wickets at the top with the new ball augers India well in this one-off game.

With Bumrah not being there, the onus is now on Mohammad Shami to lead the pace attack. Like Siraj, Shami had a spectacular IPL where he was the leading wicket-taker among pacers and performed well in England. So his experience will be vital for the Indian team at the Oval.

Shardul Thakur, in all likelihood, comes into the XI as the 3rd pacer. India needs his all-around abilities, and Thakur has done really well in the country, having taken a 5-fer and scored a half-century on the last trip to England. His contributions in both departments will be vital for the team.

India must choose between Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin for the 5th bowler’s spot. While Oval does help spinners, the early summer means the pitches would be fresh, and they may not need 2 spinners. So Umesh Yadav could pip ahead of Ashwin in the playing XI. India also has an option of playing the left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat who seems to have recovered from injury and might bring a variety to the pace attack.

Probable playing XI for India in WTC Final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav/Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj

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