London, June 7 (IANS) India captain Rohit Sharma has won the toss and elected to bowl first against Australia in the 2023 World Test Championship final at The Oval here on Wednesday.
Both captains Rohit and Pat Cummins will be playing their 50th Test match through the WTC final. The winner of the 2023 WTC final will become the first team to win all ICC titles in men’s international cricket.
After winning the toss, Rohit said India have picked Ravindra Jadeja as sole spin option ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin, while going with four fast bowlers in Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur.
Ajinkya Rahane also returns to the Test team after last playing in the format in January 2022, with KS Bharat being the wicketkeeper-batter. “The conditions and also the weather being overcast (led to bowling first). The pitch won’t change too much.”
“He (Ashwin) has been a match-winner for us, it is not a great occasion to leave him out, but you have got to do what is best for the team in the given conditions. He (Rahane) brings a lot of experience, he’s played 80-odd Tests,” said Rohit.
Cummins said he would have bowled first as well and confirmed pacer Scott Boland is playing his first Test in England, with Josh Hazlewood out due to injuries in left achilles and side.
“Hopefully day four and five, there’s a bit of spin. You think it suits his (Boland) bowling, he’ll be a key weapon. We’ve been here for about 10 days. Pretty fresh, weather has been nice, we haven’t missed a session, feeling good,” he said.
India, then led by Virat Kohli, had finished as runners-up in the inaugural WTC cycle after losing the title clash to Kane Williamson-led New Zealand by eight wickets at Rose Bowl in Southampton in 2021.
With Rohit set to captain the Test team on overseas soil for the first time, India will be aiming to go one step further through their second straight WTC final appearance against Australia at The Oval, who will be hosting a Test match in June for the very first time.
The winners of the 2023 WTC Final will take home a purse of 1.6 million dollars while the losers will get 800,000 dollars.
Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Scott Boland
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj