Team India endured a horrid time at The Oval on Day 1 of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia on Wednesday.
The bowlers could not make an impression quite as hoped after the coin fell in India's favor at the start of the contest. Travis Head's first overseas ton and Steve Smith's assurance helped Australia coast to 327-3 after 85 overs.
The early dismissal of Usman Khawaja proved to be the first and only highlight for the Rohit Sharma-led side who went into the contest with four seamers. Ravichandran Ashwin, the No.1-ranked Test bowler's exclusion was met with criticism at the end of the day's play.
The green tinge seemed to be less threatening as the day progressed while the overcast cover dissipated after the first hour of play on Day 1. The bowling side were arguably in the contest when Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed right after Lunch. But an unbeaten 251-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Head and Smith has made things complicated for India.
On that note, here are three reasons India can still make a comeback in the WTC final.
#1 India have fought back from the backfoot in the current WTC cycle multiple times
The Men in Blue dominated the first-ever cycle of the WTC from 2019 to 2021, but their progress into the final this time around was more of an uphill struggle. They were on the back foot in both of their wins in England in 2021 at the Lord's and The Oval, respectively.
They also found themselves in peril during their wins over Bangladesh and Australia recently, but they survived the tough period and came away with the victory, which is something Ashwin pointed out in the buildup to the WTC final.
“I think in the last cycle we really quite dominated and got into the Final. This time we’ve had our ups and downs, and that’s probably why I think this particular game could be lucky number two for us," Ashwin told ICC.
While the stakes are much higher in the WTC final, India are used to having their backs against the wall and fighting through to yield results.
#2 India have the batting strength to respond strongly
The pitch at The Oval is one of the most batting-friendly strips that England has to offer. The Australian batters showed their caliber with some excellent batting, and there is no reason why the Indians cannot replicate the same when it is their time with the bat.
Despite the threat posed by the Australian bowling unit, the Indian batters are capable of dealing with any threat at the height of their prowess. Largely banking on T20 form, the expectations will be heavy from the likes of Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill, along with the returning Ajinkya Rahane and the ever-stoic Cheteshwar Pujara.
Team India batters have often been hurt by tough batting conditions, especially in subcontinent conditions. But with a nice, even track and a rapid outfield, the Australian bowlers might also meet with the same fate as their Indian counterparts in the days to come.
#3 This bowling attack is proven in England
The team's biggest asset in overseas conditions has been their bowlers. The ability to pick up 20 wickets across both innings is paramount and something which the Indian bowling unit has done in South Africa, England, and Australia on a regular basis over the last couple of years.
The Men in Blue stuck with the formula of playing four seamers in their tour of England in 2021 and it paid off. India were able to bowl out England across both innings in three of the four Tests and barring Jasprit Bumrah, the bowling attack is the same.
Mohammed Siraj has arguably improved since then, Mohammed Shami's class is inevitable, Umesh Yadav's experience counts and Shardul Thakur being the X-Factor all ties up to be a well-rounded bowling attack. While things did not go their way on Day 1, they can start afresh with the new ball on Day 2.
Ravindra Jadeja might also have a say in the second innings later on in the contest as well.
Will Rohit Sharma and Co. make a comeback in the WTC final against Australia? Let us know what you think.