Why are Australia favorites to win the WTC final?
India have beaten Australia 2-1 in each of the last 4 Test series. Back in 2021, losing most of their key players to injuries, India still managed to win the series down under.
Why then, have bookies put Australia ahead of India for the WTC final? Let’s find out.
AUS vs IND WTC Final Prematch Odds
Australia to win at odds 1.60
India to win at odds 2.30
India missing key player due to injuries
The obvious thing would be to look at the key players India will be missing due to injuries.
The star bowler Jasprit Bumrah, wicket-keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant, and former opener, KL Rahul who averages 62.25 at the Kennington Oval, are all missing from this squad.
Let’s see one by one how strongly these omissions will affect India, if at all.
Bumrah’s absence is a big headache, no doubt. In 2021, Bumrah picked 18 wickets from 4 Tests in England. However, India’s pace attack is not overly dependent on one man. Umesh and Siraj also have good records in England. Siraj picked 8 wickets at the Lord’s while Umesh was the highest wicket-taker for India at the Kennington Oval with 6 wickets to his name.
KL Rahul’s absence isn’t much to worry about. Though he had scored 84 at Trent Bridge and 129 at Lord’s in 2021, and followed it up with another hundred in South Africa the same year, his returns have been dismal since then.
Now, Rishabh Pant is a big miss, you can’t argue with that. Indian selectors have snubbed Saha and went with Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat in the WTC squad.
Kishan is yet to debut in Test cricket while KS Bharat who made his debut in 2023, has 101 runs from 6 innings. The only real vulnerability is in the wicket-keeping department.
India or England, who’s better suited to the conditions?
Another reason for betting apps to put Australia as favorites would be the popular opinion that the Aussies are better in English conditions. Are they really?
We dug deep into the data and found some interesting stats that would put both teams on an even keel.
- Though he’s played just one Test at the Oval, Sharma averages 42.36 from 12 innings in England.
- Labuschagne has scored 4 fifties in England and averages 50.43 in 7 innings.
What about the rest of the Aussies?
- Alex Carey and Cameron Green have never played a Test in England.
- Whereas, Usman Khawaja and Travis Head are yet to play a Test at the Oval.
However, this doesn’t mean that Kohli would continue to edge the outswinging ball to the keeper and Rahane will get out for a 4th duck at the venue.
There is good news for both teams when you consider the current form of their key players.
A promising middle-order
- Pujara’s numbers are from the 2023 County Championship Division Two while Rahane’s are from the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy
- The numbers for Head and Green are from their Test appearances since 2022.
There is no clear winner here. It’s evenly poised. Great talent, experience and some in-form batters on both sides.
Selection Dilemmas - To spin or not to spin?
George Bailey, chief selector for Australia has hinted at Boland’s selection over Hazlewood in the XI. For India, a lot depends on the conditions. They made a blunder in the last WTC final going with two spinners with overcast conditions.
If The Oval plays true to its nature and brings spinners into play, R Ashwin would be Rohit’s choice against Smith and Labuschagne. And in that case, India would nudge ahead of the Aussies.
However, there is a catch here. The venue has hosted most Tests in August-September, when the climate is warmer and drier. This is the first time a Test is played in June at The Oval. And that is why a doubt looms over the selection of spinners.
The contest looks pretty close even in the bowling department. Boland is a promising player and will be a great replacement for Hazlewood.
So who is the favoruite for the WTC Final?
For every Labuschagne, India’s got a Pujara, and for every Kohli, Australia’s got a Smith. India, at 2.30 odds, are clearly overpriced. And as such, it offers great value for the punters.
The game will swing a great deal and it’s on Day 3, we will know who’s in the driver’s seat. At this point 2.30 on India looks like a great offer.
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