The much awaited final of the World Test Championship will start on 7th June to 11th June. There is so much talk and excitement about the clash. Former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri has revealed his combined WTC Final playing XI ahead of the mega event.
Who captains the side?
Given his experience over Pat Cummins of Australia, India’s captain Rohit Sharma was chosen by Shastri to lead the team. Sharma was chosen, in Shastri’s opinion, because of his aptitude for opening the batting position and for leadership.
“I would give the captaincy to Rohit because he’s much more experienced than Pat,” Shastri said on ICC Review. “He’s been around and he’s captained sides for a long time.
“If Steve Smith was captain of Australia, then maybe it’s a different story, but since it’s Pat Cummins and Rohit Sharma, Rohit wins it. Plus, you know, as a captain, you’re a certainty in the XI so he opens the batting.”
There were several candidates for Sharma’s opening partner, including David Warner, Usman Khawaja, and Shubman Gill. Shastri chose Khawaja in the end because of his current performance and reliable run-scoring.
“It’s a tight one between Usman Khawaja and Shubman Gill,” Shastri admitted. “Shubman is the rising young star and he’s a terrific player, but Usman Khawaja, just by current form and the number of runs he’s got over the last couple of years, I think he gets in there.”
Shastri had no second thoughts while choosing Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, and Virat Kohli for the vital positions of Nos. 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Shastri thought Labuschagne was exceptional, with an average near 60. Smith’s talent and Kohli’s dependability made them obvious picks for the middle order.
“Number three is a no-brainer as Marnus (Labuschagne) has been outstanding in Test match cricket. He averages close to 60, so he gets in there straight away,” Shastri said. “Kohli at four for just what he’s done over the years and Smith at five for what he’s done over the years and the kind of quality they bring to the table.”
Green or Jadeja?
Ravindra Jadeja was ranked No. 6 by Shastri because of his all-around abilities and capacity to offer a second spinning option. Alex Carey of Australia was given the wicket-keeping job and the No. 7 berth. Ravichandran Ashwin of India was difficult for Shastri to leave out, but Nathan Lyon was preferred because of his track record abroad and his fit for English bowling.
“At No.6, I get in Jadeja, because I believe he is one of the best all-rounders in the world,” Shastri noted. “We know there’s (England captain) Ben Stokes, but Ben has had problems with his fitness, so Jadeja comes in there and gives a lot of balance to that side.
Ashwin or Lyon?
“The reason why I picked Nathan Lyon ahead of Ashwin is because of Nathan’s overseas record,” Shastri said. “Not just in Australia, but outside Australia and (Lyon is) probably stronger to bowl those overs in England if needed. So, he comes in with Jadeja as the second spinner, with Jadeja more the all-rounder and Lyon the spinner.”
Shastri chose Pat Cummins and Mohammed Shami for the pace department without hesitating, citing their calibre and current form. It was difficult to decide between Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Cameron Green, but Shastri went for Starc because of his left-arm pace and variation, as well as his combination of two spinners and three fast bowlers.
Shastri noted that selecting the starting XI was challenging because top players like Ashwin, Hazlewood, and Cheteshwar Pujara were left off. For the World Test Championship final, he sought to field a balanced team with the best possible lineup.
“(Pat) Cummins, of course, for me, he’s a top-class operator and Mohammed Shami, he’s like vintage and he’s just getting better and better as we’re seeing in this IPL. And stronger. So he comes in there,” Shastri noted. “And then it was a tough one between (Josh) Hazelwood, Starc and there’s Cameron Green also there.
“But I preferred Jadeja because you get a better balance with two spinners, three fast bowlers, out and out fast bowlers and I would take Starc (to complement them) because of pace and variety being the left-armer. It’s a hard choice (to settle on final XI) because Ashwin’s world-class, you’ve got Hazelwood world-class there and you’ve got (Cheteshwar) Pujara there who could be threatening. So it’s not easy,” Shastri concluded.
Ravi Shastri’s combined XI
Rohit Sharma (c), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mohammad Shami.
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