The World Test Championship final between India and Australia is set to take place at the Oval on Wednesday. India is still unsure whether to include Ravichandran Ashwin as the second spinner in their lineup. Meanwhile, Australia has confirmed that seamer Scott Boland will play in the match and that there will be “no surprises” in their XI. The team will have five specialist batters, an allrounder in Cameron Green, wicketkeeper Alex Carey, three seamers, and their first-choice spinner, Nathan Lyon.
India will decide whether to include Ashwin after reviewing the pitch in the morning. Although Ashwin is the world’s No. 1-ranked test bowler, he has not played in all their test matches in England. Ravindra Jadeja is likely to start as he has better batting prowess.
The Oval typically offers spin later in the match, but this is the first test to be played at the ground before July. Hence, the three County Championship matches played there this season did not feature much spin. India captain Rohit Sharma says the pitch changes quite a bit day to day, so the final decision on whether to play Ashwin will be made after assessing the pitch.
If Ashwin does not play, India will match Australia and play four quicks, likely with Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav backing up Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. Thakur adds batting depth, and Yadav played in their win against England at the Oval in 2021, taking six wickets and scoring 35 runs.
Boland was picked by Australia ahead of Michael Neser. He has played only one test in England, which was as part of an indigenous Australian side in 2018. However, 34-year-old Boland has impressed since his test debut during the home 2021-22 Ashes series, taking 28 wickets at a brilliant average of 13.42.
Australia captain Pat Cummins is confident that Boland will excel in English conditions with the Dukes ball. He says that Boland’s game plan is simple: hit your good areas and stay there all day, allowing the ball to do the work for him. Cameron Green is the allrounder on the Australian team.
Both Jadeja and Ashwin played in the first WTC final against New Zealand in 2021 in Southampton. But Ashwin did not play against England in the four tests that year and in the fifth test in 2022.