LONDON: India captain Rohit Sharma was tight-lipped on whether star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin would feature in the World Test Championship final starting on Wednesday. Rohit’s men will bid to be crowned Test world champions for the first time when they face Australia at the Oval. The last time India played a Test at the London ground, in 2021, they left out Ashwin despite the star off-spinner’s excellent record — 474 wickets at 23.93 in 92 matches. Instead they opted to play spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja alongside four seamers in a match in which India beat England by 157 runs.
Both bowlers are in India’s 15-man squad for the WTC final. “In terms of the combination, better we wait until tomorrow (Wednesday) – that’s a common answer, I think,” Rohit said with a smile during a pre-match press conference at the Oval on Tuesday. Early season surfaces in England generally do not give spinners much help and Rohit said the Oval pitch and the overhead conditions looked as though they would assist seam bowlers.
“When we played the last Test match here at the Oval, it looked very similar to this and then as the game went on, it got better and better and slower and slower, then the reverse-swing came into play on the fifth day,” he said. “We are going to consider all those factors.” Wednesday’s match is only the second WTC final – India lost the inaugural showpiece match by eight wickets to New Zealand in Southampton in 2021. Rohit said his men were determined to learn from their mistakes on that occasion.
“The last time we played (in the final) we made a few mistakes, which we’ve already spoken about in this group,” said the 36-year-old. “It’s a good challenge to have and we know exactly what went wrong for us in the last Championship final, so hopefully we won’t repeat those kinds of things.” Australia, who will remain in England for a five-match Ashes campaign, boast an impressive pace attack led by captain Pat Cummins. But India have won their past four Test series against Australia, including a 2-1 success on home soil earlier this year.
“We’ve played the opposition a fair bit in the last two or three months so we know what they are capable of… the next five days will be quite challenging for us,” said Rohit. It is now a decade since India last won a major International Cricket Council tournament, the 50-over World Cup in 2013. “That is what you play for,” said Rohit. “It will be nice to win some titles, some extraordinary series. “Having said that, I genuinely feel we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves by over-thinking this kind of stuff.”- AFP