New Delhi [India], June 4 (ANI): The mighty Australians will be playing their first-ever final of the ICC World Test Championship at The Oval from June 7 onwards, where they will lock horns against rivals India for the prestigious golden championship mace.
Before the start of WTC cycle 2019-21, the World Test Championship winner was determined by a ranking system from 2003 to 2019. On April 1 every year, the Test championship mace was given to the top-ranked team along with cash prize. Australia has emerged as the top-ranked team on this cut- off date set by ICC a total of eight times. India has also won the Test mace five times, but all these wins came before the Championship was played in a league format.
But the WTC started to be played in a league format in late 2010s, with the first WTC cycle held in 2019-2021. India and New Zealand emerged as top two sides under this new league format and battled in the final in UK, which NZ won.
Under the league format, Australia is playing its first-ever final of ICC World Test Championship.
Australia's journey towards the 'Ultimate Test' against India was one filled with dominance and determination reminding fans of the Australian side of the 2000s when they had a stronghold over every format of the game. Here is the top performers from this star-studded Australian side.
1).Usman KhawajaThis 36-year-old southpaw had a career resurgance of sorts in 2022. After staying out of the Test side for two years, having played his last Test in August 2019, Khawaja entered the Australian set-up in 2022 as a man on a mission, to make the absolute best out of whatever number of Tests his body could let him play. The batter went on a rampage, scoring 1,608 runs at an average of 69.91 in 16 Test matches. In 28 innings, Khawaja scored six centuries and seven half-centuries, with the best score of 195. He is the second-highest scorer in the WTC 2021-23 cycle, behind England's Joe Root (1,915 runs).
2).Marnus LabuschagneThis 28-year-old was a rising star and was considered as the heir apparent to current Australian batting great Steve Smith before the start of the 2021-23 WTC cycle. Labuschagne proved himself as a superstar for the future, scoring 1,509 runs in 19 matches at an average of 53.89. In 33 matches, he scored five centuries and five fifties, with best score of 204. He is the fourth-highest scorer in WTC 2021-23 cycle and even outscored Smith.
3).Steve SmithThis veteran continued to live up to his billing as the best Test batter of this generation during the 2021-23 WTC cycle. In 19 matches, he scored 1,252 runs at an average of 50.08. In 30 matches, he scored three centuries and six fifties, with best score of 200. He is the sixth-highest scorer in WTC 2021-23 cycle.
4).Travis HeadThe 29-year-old solidified himself as a future staple in the Australian top order during the WTC 2021-23 cycle. In 17 matches, he scored 1,208 runs at an average of 52.52 at a strike rate of above 80. In 26 innings, he scored three centuries and six fifties, with best score of 175. He also took seven wickets with his useful spin bowling.
5).Cameron GreenThis 23-year-old lanky, blonde-haired all-rounder from Western Australia is a star for the future. In 16 matches, he scored 705 runs at an average of 39.16. In 21 innings, he scored one century and five fifties, with best score of 114. He also took 23 wickets at an average of 29.17 and a strike rate of 3.10. His best bowling figures in the 2021-23 cycle is 5/27.
6).Nathan LyonThe Australian spin great is the leading wicket-taker in WTC 2021-23 cycle. In 19 Tests, Lyon took a whooping 83 wickets at an average of 26.97 and an economy rate of 2.97, with best bowling figures of 8/64.
7).Pat CumminsThe Australian skipper ended with a tally of 53 wickets in 15 matches at an average of 21.22 and an economy rate of 2.68, he also has the best bowling figures of 5/38. He ended as the sixth-highest wicket-taker in the WTC 2021-23 cycle.
8).Mitchell StarcSitting just next to Cummins in the seventh spot is Mitchell Starc. The fiery pacer took a total of 51 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 27.27 and an economy rate of 3.05. his best bowling figures are 4/33 in this cycle.
India and Australia will lock horns in the WTC Final from June 7 onwards.
India's squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav have been named as stand-by players for the high-stakes match.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David WarnerStandby players: Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw. (ANI)