Former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri feels Australia will be favorites on paper but the Indian players will have the edge in match fitness. The English conditions are expected to favor Australia but there could be a turn on offer at the Oval, which is expected to be a bit dry.
Meanwhile, all the Indian players, barring Cheteshwar Pujara and KS Bharat (who didn’t get opportunities in playing XI for Gujarat Titans) played in IPL 2023 and they are match fit. However, India will miss the services of their gun-fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.
On the other hand, players like David Warner and Cameron Green played in IPL whereas Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith took part in County Cricket.
“I would say if you look at pace attack, if Bumrah was there, I would say it was equal with an attack of Mohammed Shami, Bumrah, and Mohammed Siraj. But that Aussie attack with Starc, Cummins, maybe the match fitness that will come into play,” Shastri said at the ICC’s ‘Afternoon with Test Legends’ event.
The former Indian all-rounder feels game time will play a huge role in the WTC Final and thus India could have a slight advantage.
“Match fitness might come into play,” Shastri reckoned.
“You need some cricket behind you and staying in the park for six hours for five days is different from bowling in nets for two hours every day,” he said.
Shastri reckons Mohammed Shami will hold the key for India. Shami, who is known for his upright seam position, finished as the leading wicket-taker of IPL 2023 as he scalped 28 wickets in 17 matches for runners-up Gujarat Titans.
“Shami might be key as he has been playing a lot of cricket,” Shastri added.
On the other hand, former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting also concurred with Ravi Shastri’s thoughts.
“Some of the Aussies have done nothing and not played anything. Coming in fresh, is that better? Or coming tired slightly jaded but playing lot of cricket, what is better,” said Ponting.
Furthermore, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram also added he liked having games under his belt during his heydays.
Akram said, “I, as a player, like having cricket (games) behind me. The format doesn’t matter as long as I am playing. It’s better to have a tournament like IPL.”
The WTC final will be played at the Oval from June 7.