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World Test Championship final: Oval conditions should favour Australia

Australia take on India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in London, with both teams hoping to succeed New Zealand as champions.

For India it is a return to the final after losing to the Black Caps by eight wickets in the inaugural WTC final at the Rose Bowl in Southampton almost exactly two years ago.

Meanwhile, for Australia it is their first time in the showpiece final, with the Baggy Greens having topped the standings during the qualifying period, although both sides enjoyed identical 4-1-1 records.

WhatAustralia v India
WhereThe Oval, London
WhenWednesday 7th - Sunday11th June 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Seven
OddsAustralia 1.95, India 2.75, Draw 5.50

County stints should aid Australia

Much of the pre-match talk has been around David Warner, who recently set out his path to calling time on his career next year if all goes to plan.

The veteran left-hander averaged a mere 9.50 on his last visit to England for the Ashes series of 2019, so he may not be as pivotal figure as he once was, but the same cannot be said for either Steven Smith or Marnus Labuschagne.

The two right-handers have recently been playing in county cricket - Smith for Sussex and Labuschagne with Glamorgan - so both batters should be acclimatised to the conditions on offer.

The Oval traditionally offers some of the best wickets in England and both middle-order lynchpins have plenty of previous success in England to draw from.

Labuschagne made 353 runs at an average of 50.42 in the 2019 Ashes series, while Smith averages almost 60 from his 16 previous Test outings in England, so both should be ready to impress at The Oval.

Smith has made two centuries and one 50 from his five Test innings in south London and so it is no surprise to see him at 3.75 to be Team - Top 1st Inns Batter against India, with Labuschagne at 4.50.

All-rounder Cameron Green, if fully fit, may also be suited to the conditions, with his hard-hitting batting backed up by being able to extract pace and bounce from most surfaces.

With the ball captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will be raring to go after opting out of the IPL and both should enjoy the decent carry usually on offer at The Oval, while Scott Boland stands by to step in if Josh Hazlewood is ruled out.

Cummins is 3.50 to be Team - Top 1st Inns Bowler, but do not rule out off-spinner Nathan Lyon at 4.00, although he may come more into the game in the second innings.

Recent success on India's side

India and Australia met as recently as February and March this year, when a four-match Test series on the sub-continent ended in a 2-1 victory for the hosts.

The Baggy Greens were swept away in the opening two matches, before responding strongly to win the third Test in Indore by nine wickets, before the series finale in Ahmedabad ended in a tame draw.

However, it is certainly India who can take most from the series, having regularly punched holes in the Aussie batting as Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin shared 47 wickets between them.

Seamer Mohammed Shami chipped in with a valuable nine wickets at an average of 28.22 and he is likely to be even more key at The Oval, along with fellow paceman Mohammed Siraj.

The fiery Siraj is certain to be right in the thick of the action and has taken 18 wickets in five previous Test outings in England, so he is a decent option at 3.75 to be Team - Top 1st Inns Bowler, with Shami available at 3.40.

Of course India have always been renowned for their high-quality batters and that remains the case, with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara ensuring that their top order is packed full of class and experience.

However, it is relative newcomer Shubman Gill who may well be worth watching at 5.50 to be Team - Top 1st Inns Batter.

The 23-year-old right-handed opener comes in to the game on the back of an outstanding IPL season, having taken to Test cricket immediately when thrown in in Australia in 2020/21.

Gill made a crucial 91 in the final innings of the series as the tourists chased down 328 to claim a series-clinching victory at the Gabba, while his most recent Test innings was 128 in the Ahmedabad draw.

Australia's bowlers will be well aware that they need to get rid of Gill before he gets ticking and his battle with the Baggy Greens pace aces could be pivotal.

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