IPL 2023 is nearing its end. The league games are done and dusted. And the playoffs begin from Tuesday onwards in Chennai. But the conversation on the next big thing in world cricket has already begun. In another fortnight, the World Test Championship (WTC) final will kick off at The Oval in London where India will be aiming for their first ever ICC trophy in 10 years when they go up against Australia. Ahead of the summit clash, former India coach Ravi Shastri made an interesting selection. Considering players from both the present WTC squads of India and Australia, he picked the best XI and in the process, ignored Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Speaking to the ICC on the WTC Final, Shastri named his best XI combining India and Australia, where he picked only four players from his nation and seven from the Aussie side.
Without hesitation, Rohit Sharma was picked as the first opener and as the captain with Shastri explaining that it was a no-brainer given Pat Cummins is his counterpart in the Australia side. He did admit that had Steve Smith remained the skipper, he would have opted for him over Rohit.
“I would give the captaincy to Rohit because he’s much more experienced than Pat,” Shastri declared. “He’s been around and he’s captained sides for a long time. If Steve Smith was captain of Australia, then maybe it’s a different story, but since it’s Pat Cummins and Rohit Sharma, Rohit wins it. Plus, you know, as a captain, you’re a certainty in the XI so he opens the batting.”
The former India all-rounder however found it difficult to pick between Usman Khawaja and Gill, but eventually went with the left-hander, who has been the second-highest run-getter in the present WTC cycle after Joe Root.
“It’s a tight one between Usman Khawaja and Shubman Gill,” Shastri admitted. “Shubman is the rising young star and he’s a terrific player, but Usman Khawaja, just by current form and the number of runs he’s got over the last couple of years, I think he gets in there.”
The next three were easy pickings for Shastri with top-ranked Test batter Marnus Labuschagne at No.3 followed by Virat Kohli and Smith, implying that Pujara had to miss out.
Shastri added only two spinner to the bowling line-up. Ravindra Jadeja was one, owing to his all-round abilities where he trumped Cameron Green. The other was Nathan Lyon, who was picked over Ravichandran Ashwin.
“The reason why I picked Nathan Lyon ahead of Ashwin is because of Nathan’s overseas record,” Shastri explained. “Not just in Australia, but outside Australia and (Lyon is) probably stronger to bowl those overs in England if needed.”
Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Mohammed Shami formed the pace line-up while Alex Carry was picked as the keeper.
Ravi Shastri combined India-Australia Test XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mohammad Shami