India and Australia are all set to battle out for the coveted World Test Championship (WTC) title at The Oval from June 7 onwards. The two heavyweights qualified for the summit clash after topping the points table after a grueling two-year cycle of Test cricket.
Despite the absence of several high-profile names such as Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, and KL Rahul, Team India boast a strong squad and the same is the case with Pat Cummins' Australian side. With the match slated to take place in England, both sides are likely to select teams that are best suited to such conditions.
The two teams recently met during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India, where the hosts emerged as winners by a 2-1 margin.
The squads are currently assembled on English shores following the culmination of the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL). The two teams are similar across several aspects, but have their differences as well, which make them unique as well.
On that note, based on the conditions as well as form, here is the combined India-Australia playing XI for the WTC final, which features five Indian players and six from Australia.
Openers - Rohit Sharma and Usman Khawaja
India and Australia have found success in overseas conditions on the back of their opening combination. The duo of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were at their best in England in 2021 while the experienced pair of David Warner and Usman Khawaja have piled on the runs as well.
However, it is the Indian skipper Rohit and the left-handed Khawaja who make the cut in this WTC Final combined playing XI. While Shubman Gill is on the rise across all formats, he is yet to be tested in challenging conditions on a consistent basis against a potent bowling attack.
Middle order - Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, and Alex Carey
The middle order of the WTC final combined playing XI arguably picks itself. The illustrious trio of Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, and Steve Smith poses to be a nightmare for the opposition bowling attack. The three will act as the backbone of the batting unit of the playing XI.
Since India are missing the services of Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul, Australia's Alex Carey emerges as the natural choice to don the wicketkeeping gloves ahead of the inexperienced pair of Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat. Carey also acts as a left-handed batting option in the middle order.
Bowlers - Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pat Cummins, Mohammed Shami, and Mitchell Starc
Deciding the bowling combination comes across as the biggest headache considering the conditions. The prospect of playing multiple spinners is the biggest hurdle in the path.
Considering that Oval is among the better pitches in England that aid spin, playing two spinners will not be the worst option to consider. There has been some turn on offer at the venue, particularly in the third and fourth innings which can be exploited by playing two spinners.
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin edge out Nathan Lyon in the spin bowling department, as the Indian duo are credible batting options as well. They will offer immense depth to the WTC final, combined playing XI batting order.
Despite the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India have a solid pace bowling attack. Australia are also facing a setback in the form of Josh Hazlewood's uncertainty following a side strain injury.
Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Mohammed Shami emerge as the most balanced pace battery in terms of bowling with the new as well as the old ball. Mohammed Siraj narrowly missed out due to the immense experience of the aforementioned trio.
The likes of Cameron Green and Shardul Thakur do not find a spot in the WTC final combined playing XI with the all-rounder slots being taken up by the spinners.
Who will win the WTC final between India and Australia? Let us know what you think.