The Australian cricket team has recently been back to its dominant best, much like the yesteryears. They are playing some unbelievably good cricket across all formats of the game. Men in Yellow won the T20 World Cup for the first time in 2021 and had a stellar Test season over these 2 years.
After a rare defeat against India at home in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020/21 that ruled them out of contention to qualify for the WTC 2019-21 final, Australia bounced back strongly in the 2nd edition of WTC. They started their campaign with a resounding Ashes series win at home against England, where they won by a margin of 4-0. The Pat Cummins-led side followed that up with a close, high-scoring series win over Pakistan in Pakistan and then drew a tough away series 1-1 in Sri Lanka. Back home, they defeated West Indies and South Africa 2-0 to comfortably qualify for the WTC final.
The only defeat the Aussies endured was against their WTC Final opponents India away from home earlier this year. They lost the series by a close margin of 2-1, but the loss didn’t impact their progress to the final clash vs India.
Australia will enter the finale as the stronger unit than India, with all their first-choice players fit. At the same time, India has been jolted with injury concerns to its players in all the game departments. As things stand, Australia has all the bases covered on their playing XI for the final match.
Australia WTC Squad for the Final: Pat Cummins (captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Josh Inglis, Todd Murphy, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Let us walk through the possible playing XI for the 5-time world champions Australia.
Openers: David Warner, Usman Khawaja
Usman Khawaja has been a revelation for Australia at the top of the order regarding Test cricket. The left-hander is the 2nd highest leading getter in this WTC cycle with 1608 runs at an incredible average of 69.91 in 28 innings. Khawaja scored 6 centuries in the 2 years, and his comeback to the team has been simply outstanding.
On the other hand, David Warner has had a dip in form in the longest format of the game, and though he scored a double century in the boxing day Test against South Africa, Warner could make only 407 runs in the remaining 13 Tests in this WTC cycle. Australia will hope the Southpaw will come good in the all-important WTC Final.
Top & Middle-Order Batters: Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head
Australia has a prolific no.3, 4, and 5 in the form of Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Travis Head, who all feature in the top-7 leading run-getters list. Marnus Labuschagne, the no.1 Test batter in the world, sits at the 4th position in the leading run-getters list for the WTC cycle 2021-23 with 1509 at a prolific average of 53.89 slamming 5 centuries in the last 2 years. Smith and Travis Head have amassed 1252 & 1208 runs, respectively, with both hitting 3 centuries each. Overall, the middle order for Australia looks power-packed, and it won’t be easy to make inroads for Team India.
Australia will hope their combined experience of playing in England will keep them in good stead on the big occasion of the WTC Final.
Wicketkeepers and All-rounder: Alex Carey, Cameron Green
The Australian team management has entrusted Alex Carey to be the keeper-batsman in Test cricket. He started the WTC cycle with a great outing in Pakistan and a century at home playing against South Africa. But he suffered a dip in form in the away series against India, where Carey could muster only 56 runs in 8 innings. He did struggle against the spinners, but the WTC final will be a different ball game altogether, as conditions in the Oval will suit his style of play, and Carey will be expected to deliver both behind the stumps and with the bat.
Cameron Green has pipped all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and is ahead of Matt Renshaw in the pecking order. Green had a great IPL debut season where he scored his maiden T20 century for Mumbai Indians and has scored over 650 runs in this WTC cycle, including a century against India at Ahmedabad earlier this year. Apart from his batting, he will be looked at by the Australian think-tank to feature as the 5th bowler, making them a well-oiled and competent unit in all departments of the game.
Bowlers: Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc
The fast bowling trio of skipper Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc don’t need any introduction. All of them have taken over 200 wickets in Test cricket and can unsettle any batting sides on their hay day.
Australian captain Pat Cummins has taken 53 wickets in 15 Tests in this WTC cycle, and he is closely followed by the left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc who has scalped 51 wickets in the same period. Cummins has a very good record playing against India in Test cricket, as does Josh Hazlewood. The only concern for Australia going into the final game vs. India is the fitness of the latter. Hazlewood has featured only in 4 Tests for Australia and only played 2 games for his IPL side RCB this season. So he hasn’t had much game time recently.
Nathan Lyon will be the solo spinner for Australia in the final, and the off-spinner had a fantastic WTC personally as he has picked 83 wickets in 19 Tests at an average of less than 27. His record against India in Tests is outstanding as he has taken the most wickets against India than any other opponent. Lyon is expected to bowl long spells and assist the pacers whenever needed.
Australia Probable Playing XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (VC), Travis Head, Alex Carey (WK), Cameron Green, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins (Captain), Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc
Initially, the Aussie selectors had named the opening batter Matt Renshaw and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh as the reserves. However, a couple of days it was mentioned that the duo wouldn’t be part of the touring party anymore. It is to be noted that uncapped keeper-batsman Jimmy Pierson is added as a backup for Josh Inglis, but it is unlikely that either will be preferred ahead of Alex Carey.
Come the 7th of June, the much-anticipated Test match will take place, and it has all ingredients to be an instant classic. And whenever these sides have met in Test cricket, it has been nothing but magic; this time, it isn’t going to be different.
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