Handling Dukes ball key: Former Australia assistant coach Sriram

Sridharan Sriram, former assistant coach of the Australian team, insists that it will be a battle of equals and that the team that adapts to the conditions will emerge victorious.

CHENNAI:  India and Australia will lock horns to decide the champion team in the world of Test cricket in less than a week at the Oval in London. While India is without the services of Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant — all are yet to recover from injury — the Rohit Sharma-led side is still a formidable one. 

Cheteshwara Pujara had gone early to England to play County Cricket and the rest of the Indian team left in several phases after the league stage of the 2023 IPL came to an end. Its been the same case with the Australian team as well, but most of their players were not a part of the IPL and are likely to be mentally fresh for the World Test Championship final.

That said, Sridharan Sriram, former assistant coach of the Australian team, insists that it will be a battle of equals and that the team that adapts to the conditions will emerge victorious. “Acclimatising to the conditions and the Duke's ball will be key,” he told this daily. “Indians as well as the Aussies have been doing their own individual preparations apart from playing in the Indian Premier League. Aussie bowlers may be a bit fresher compared to the Indian bowlers. Having said that, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are in great form with the ball.”

Sriram believes that Steve Smith and Marnus Labuchagne will be key for Australia with the bat. “Cameron Green has been in good form. Travis Head can be dangerous with the ability to take the game away in a short span of time. David Warner and Usman Khawaja can be vulnerable early in England to the Dukes ball against Shami and Siraj. That is something India will look to take advantage of.”

While there is a possibility of Indian playing both Ashwin and Jadeja, Sriram said that the playing XI would depend on the surface and weather, adding that The Oval rarely hosts a Test match in the month of June. Sharma and Warner have not been in good form of late, but Sriram said that it is not something teams would lose sleep over.  “Both Warner and Sharma are quality players and both will get their preparations organised as they normally do before any Test match,” he said before adding that the tactical battle between Pat Cummis and Sharma is one to watch for.

WTC final against India is our grand final: Lyon 

Melbourne: Off-spinner Nathan Lyon doesn’t believe Australia’s preparations for the World Test Championship final will be affected by the talk around the Ashes, terming the upcoming contest against India as a “grand final”. “Yes, we are playing the Ashes but we’ve got a big game that we’re up for. This (WTC final) is our grand final, and then our season basically starts again,” Lyon was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. “That’s probably where we’re quite happy with where we’re at with our planning. We are able to understand what we’ve got around the corner and be OK. It’s exciting to be part of the final and the fanfare and stuff around it, it’s bloody special.”

Australia unsure about India’s bowling line-up 

London: Talking to local media prior to Australia’s training session at the Kent County Cricket Ground in Beckenham on Thursday, assistant coach Daniel Vettori said the team management had a lot of discussion about India’s probable bowling attack. “We have been debating that,” Vettori said. “I think (Ravindra) Jadeja will play because of the batting he brings to the table and how successful he has been at that No.6 position. Then the question will be around that fourth seamer and the all-rounder in (Shardul) Thakur and R Ashwin, but they are (both) pretty good choices.”

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