Fourteen of the fifteen India players in the World Test Championship (WTC) final were active in the Indian Premier League (IPL) during April and May. Only David Warner and Cameron Green participated in the Indian Premier League, while Michael Neser, Steven Smith, Marcus Harris, and Marnus Labuschagne played county cricket.
Since the conclusion of the four-match Test series in India in March, the majority of Australia’s squad for the WTC final has not played much competitive cricket. Neither team has played a Test match since the conclusion of the series. Which brings us to the question of which team, India or Australia, is best prepared for the final, which begins on Wednesday at The Oval?
While some Australians, including Ricky Ponting, are uncertain, Australia captain Pat Cummins is certain that a break will be beneficial for his team, particularly since the WTC final will be followed by the five-Test Ashes series, which will conclude in five weeks.
“Yeah, they [breaks] are scarce,” Cummins prefaced his response regarding the significance of having a break when players’ workloads have been enormous across all three formats, including franchise-based tournaments.
Therefore, we attempt to take breaks whenever we can. I’ve always said that with six Tests in the next two months, I’d rather be slightly underprepared than overprepared. This is from the perspective of a bowler. I always believe that getting ready requires minimal effort. Then, I want to ensure that I’m physically fit for the contests.”
This decision was made well before Cummins departed the India tour after the first two Tests for family reasons. Cummins stated at an ICC event celebrating Test cricket on Sunday at The Oval that his team was prepared for India, having arrived “refreshed” from a three-day training camp in Beckenham.
The last week of training at Beckenham has been excellent, he said. “Obviously, we trained extensively at home as well. Everyone has arrived, we’ve trained extremely hard, and everyone is revitalized, renewed, and quite eager.”
Minutes earlier, at the same event, Ponting stated that he wasn’t sure which team was better prepared, but he gave Australia a “slight” advantage due to the more Australia-like conditions at The Oval, where the bounce is good, the square boundaries are long, and the forecast calls for lots of warm weather.
Ponting stated, “As far as preparation goes, some Australians have done nothing; they have not played any cricket at all.” “At least every Indian player in the IPL has been playing extremely competitive cricket.” Is it therefore preferable to arrive untainted by cricket? Or is it perhaps a little jaded and fatigued, having played a great deal of cricket leading up to the event? Consequently, there are numerous variables that could emerge during the course of this week.”
“Conversate with yourself and be mentally prepared”
The India players will be required to transition from the white Kookaburra to the red Dukes, but Rohit Sharma believes that modern players are accustomed to such a challenge. Instead, he advised that the team’s younger members concentrate on the mental aspect.
“If you’re going to participate, this is something you must mentally prepare for. You must be adaptable and make any necessary adjustments to your technique,” he said. “However, I believe it is more important to speak to yourself and mentally prepare. We also have a number of new faces in the squad, so a lot of the other guys haven’t done that yet.
“For me, it was simply a matter of talking to myself and getting mentally prepared, as this is something that many of us have been doing for years.”
You must have faith in Rohit. At the 2019 ODI World Cup, contested in the same region, he scored the most runs with 648 in nine innings, which included five centuries and a half-century. On his subsequent tour in 2021 (extending into 2022) he led India in Test scoring, including a match-winning century at The Oval in the fourth Test.
If he has learned anything as a batter in England, it is that “you are never in.”
As long as you are willing to work hard, you can be successful as a batter in England, he explained. “I realized while batting [in 2021] that you are never actually in because the weather is constantly shifting. Therefore, you must concentrate for extended durations, which is the difficulty of this format. When it’s your turn to bowl, you’ll receive a message or have an intuitive feeling, at which point you should be prepared and, more importantly, you must be there.”
And if one maintains this concentration, according to Rohit, scoring runs at The Oval is simple. “As we all know, this is also one of the best batting wickets,” he stated. “You get value for your shots, the square boundaries are quite fast. It is simply a matter of maximizing your chances of success by concentrating for extended periods of time.”