A lot has changed since India lost to New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) final in 2021. Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli resigned as captains, Kohli returned to peak form, Ross Taylor retired, Australia won two T20 World Cups, and the nation once again dominated the test game.
While India prevailed over South Africa to earn a spot in the WTC Final for the second time in a row, they will be without three key players when they face Pat Cummins’ Australia on June 7 at the Oval.
The reasons for the absence of these three players, as well as their replacements, are listed below.
1 Jasprit Bumrah
His last international match was a Twenty20 International against Australia in September 2022. He was ruled out of the following series against South Africa and the T20 World Cup as well after he complained of back pain.
In January, the right-arm pacer was added to India’s squad for a home ODI series against Sri Lanka, but it was later determined that he would not play for several months. This meant missing the WTC final and the IPL 2023. He as of late posted a photograph of his shoes, flagging that he may have returned to light preparation.
Bumrah would have been a great asset for India this year given his excellent record of 37 wickets at an average of 26.27 in England, despite not having a great WTC final in 2021 (despite bowling well, he was the only Indian bowler to not pick a single wicket across both innings).
India will probably pick Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami as the primary pacers, with either Umesh Yadav or Jaydev Unadkat having an opportunity on the off chance that the circumstances are pace-accommodating.
2 Rishabh Pant
In December of last year, the young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was at the height of his Test prowess when he was involved in a serious car accident. He supported wounds to his head, knee, and shin and was hospitalized for over a month.
He is said to be recovering well, but there is no specific timetable for his return to the field. Ishan Kishan may also have a chance against Australia in his absence, but KS Bharat is likely to take the lead.
Pant scored 4 (22) in the first innings of the WTC final in 2021 and a brilliant 41 (88) in the low-scoring third innings before making a hasty shot that cost him his wicket.
However, Kohli, who was captain at the time, backed him despite widespread criticism because he was aware that was his style and that the same shot could have set him free on another day.
3 Ishant Sharma
With Jasprit Bumrah battling, veteran pacer Ishant Sharma drove India’s bowling assault close by Mohammed Shami in the WTC last 2021 and picked 3/48 in New Zealand’s most memorable innings. On the other hand, it turned out to be his last match in Inda’s colors.
Soon after India’s defeat, news reports surfaced stating that the selectors no longer favored Ishant and Wriddhiman Saha. Mohammed Siraj, who emerged as Ishan’s less obvious successor, will also play a role in the bowling lineup against Australia.