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World Test Championship final: Three key battles

Australia face India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in London, with both sides hoping to succeed New Zealand as officially the best team on the planet.

The initial WTC culminated in a final played at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, England, with India being soundly beaten by eight wickets by the Black Caps in a match dominated by the bowlers on both sides.

India have earned themselves a return to the final and this time around face an Australia side who also have the massive challenge of an Ashes series in England following on straight after this match-up.

WhatAustralia v India
WhereThe Oval, London
When7th-11th June 2023
How to watchSeven

Both sides have a number of standout stars and we take a look at three of the key battles which could decide who is crowned as Test champions after five days of action.

Pat Cummins vs Shubman Gill

India opener Shubman Gill has been tearing it up in the Indian Premier League in recent times and, while that is obviously not the same as red-ball cricket, there is no doubt that he is in tip-top form.

The attacking right-hander, still only 23, has made three centuries and racked up 851 runs in the IPL ahead of Sunday’s final with the Gujarat Titans - scoring well over 100 runs more than any other batter in the competition.

He does have previous in Test cricket against the Aussies, impressing Down Under in 2021, especially when making 91 in the second innings at the Gabba as the tourists made 329-7 in their second innings to claim a 2-1 series victory.

Gill can also take confidence from his last innings in Test cricket, which saw him make 128 against Australia in Ahmedabad, although conditions at The Oval are unlikely to be too similar.

With seamers more likely to benefit from conditions in England, Aussie skipper Pat Cummins is set to be a key figure and he can draw on previous success in dismissing opener Gill.

In Gill’s debut series in Australia he may have impressed, but across the three Test matches he played Cummins dismissed him in the first innings of each of those clashes.

Similar success in the English capital would go a long way towards helping Australia prevail.

Nathan Lyon v Cheteshwar Pujara

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon has been an absolutely crucial member of the Aussie bowling attack for most of his career, offering a truly top-class back-up to the battery of pacemen on offer.

And one outstanding feature of recent Australia vs India series has been his battles with Cheteshwar Pujara, who is very much the steadying influence of a talent-packed Indian batting line-up.

Lyon has dismissed Pujara no fewer than 13 times in Test cricket, his highest tally against any batter, which given that he has 482 wickets overall to his name is quite a feat.

Pujara can be difficult to dig out once he gets in, although it is worth noting that he has only registered one century since making 193 against the Baggy Greens at the SCG in January 2019.

With that in mind, Lyon will no doubt be champing at the bit to get stuck in against his long-standing opponent, even if conditions at The Oval may not really suit until later on in the game.

David Warner v Mohammed Shami

The selection of veteran opener David Warner provoked much debate, with the left-hander having made just one century in his last 32 Test innings.

His double century against South Africa at the MCG at the end of 2022 stands out as an aberration in a run of low scores across the last three years and his last experience against India was not a good one.

He missed a large part of the series in India earlier this year due to a fractured elbow suffered when hit by a short ball from Mohammed Siraj, while his last visit to England saw him average a mere 9.50 in the 2019 Ashes series.

He was tormented by Stuart Broad in particular, struggling when the England pace ace went around the wicket and India's Mohammed Shami is very capable of doing likewise.

From the last World test Championship final onwards, Shami has taken 45 Test wickets at a touch over 27 and is enjoying something of a renaissance later on in his career.

Both he and the even more fiery Siraj will no doubt be looking to test Warner out to the max and how he responds will be key to his hopes of being confirmed for the following Ashes series.

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