Monday, December 4, 2023

‘Not sure about Hardik but India’s pace attack has…’: Aaron Finch explains why Rohit and Co. are WTC final favourites

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June 18, 2023 – that’s the date for the second World Test Championship final. Venue, The Oval. Teams – Australia and India. The Pat Cummins-led side were the first to qualify for the summit clash on the back of their win in Indore in the third Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. India qualified after New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka in their first Test match of the two-game series at home. The Virat Kohli-led side had lost to the Black Caps two years back in the final. But former Aussie captain Aaron Finch feels that history won’t repeat when Rohit Sharma’s men head to London for the WTC final against Australia.

Aaron Finch; India skipper Rohit Sharma with Virat Kohli

Speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Legends League Cricket in Doha, Finch, who is the skipper of World Giants, explained that while he remains unsure over the return of Hardik Pandya in Test cricket, India’s pace attack, which has “one of the top bowlers in the world”, will play a key role in India’s match against Australia irrespective of whether Rohit plays both Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja or one of them.

“I am not sure what Hardik’s Test match plans but when you look at Shami, Umesh, Suraj and these guys, they are really very very good fast bowlers. Siraj is among the top bowlers in the world at the moment. He can all swing the ball. They beat England in England last time. So India have a huge chance for the final. They have a lot of bases covered whether they play one or two spinners,” he said.

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When asked about what changes he expects from Australia, barring the return of Cummins who had missed the last two Tests against India, Finch said: “They are not going to play three spinners, that’s for sure (laughs).”

The former Aussie opener, who had announced his retirement a little more than a month back, also felt that Australia should have beaten India in the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, claiming that the horrifying collapse in the second innings in New Delhi Test match changed the course of the series.

“They should have won 2-1. It is just that one hour of madness in Delhi,” he said.

Nevertheless, it was a massive turnaround for Australia who were written off after twin defeats, in Nagpur and Delhi, with veteran predicting a whitewash. The tourists bounced back to beat India in Indore before the final tie ended in a draw.

“Khawaja was amazing. But Australia also batted a bit longer and deeper in the game. It would have been easier for them to drop their heads after losing the toss in the third Test but the way they approached and bowled on the first morning was brilliant. And then to take a lead and get ahead in the game was pretty awesome as well. They deserved that Test win. They should have been 2-1 up in the series,” Finch said when asked to point one factor that worked for Australia in the last two matches.

Finch, who has opened alongside David Warner in umpteen international matches, also gave his verdict on the Aussie batter’s situation amid talks of his retirement following a forgettable outing in the series against India. The 36-year-old backed Warner to “fire again” and be part of the Ashes series as he looks forward to that battle between him and Stuart Broad.

“He hasn’t got as many runs as he would have liked but that is just the nature of the game and it is the conversation at the moment. He is a great player and he is Australia’s best-ever three-format batsman. I think…he will fire again. I mean he got a 200 in Boxing Day which shows that he still has the drive and desire to be there. And the Ashes will be a big challenge no doubt. Stuart Broad again…that will be a great challenge for him. I know that he is fighting hard,” he said.

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