Last Updated: May 28, 2023, 15:08 IST
Less than 10 days remain before the ICC World Test Championship final gets underway between India and Australia at The Oval. A bunch of India Test stars have already landed in England and started their preparations including batting superstar Virat Kohli who recently finished his IPL commitments before jetting off for the WTC final.
The two teams clashed earlier this year in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which India retained thanks to victories in the first two Tests before Australia showed some fight by pulling one back. However, the challenge at The Oval will be starkly different from that what the two teams had to deal with in India with pacers expected to dominate.
Batting legend Ricky Ponting has revealed a combined XI comprising current India and Australia stars based on their current form. And it’s identical to the one chosen by former India coach Ravi Shastri with both picking Rohit Sharma as their captain.
“I’ll start with Usman Khawaja. His last couple of years, whether it has been in Australia or away, have been outstanding at the top of the order,” Ponting said on The ICC Review podcast.
“Almost since he’s been picked back in the Australian team, he hasn’t put a foot wrong. The older he is getting, the better he is getting. I’m going left hand-right hand, so I’ll go for Rohit Sharma as the other opener. He’s not just entirely form-based either. I wanted him to be captain of the side,” he added.
Pat Cummins leads Australia in Tests but Ponting chose to go with Rohit based purely on experience. “Pat Cummins, I’ll mention him later, he’ll be in this side, but just from the experience point of view with Rohit, he’s obviously been captain a lot longer than Pat has, so I thought he deserved to be the captain of this team,” he said.
Ponting recalled how Rohit scored a stunning hundred in the Nagpur Test on a track where everybody else struggled. “We know what sort of class he holds with the bat. Even his recent form in the last series against Australia was great, scoring that unbelievable hundred on a wicket where everyone else really struggled on,” the former Australian captain said.
Rohit opens with Umsan Khawaja in the eleven with Marnus Labuschagne batting at No. 3. At no.4 is Virat Kohli followed by Steve Smith.
“Pretty hard to go past the next couple I’ve got in the batting line-up, which are Virat Kohli and Steve Smith,” Ponting said.
“If you talk about great players of the last decade, both of these guys will be right at the top of anyone’s list. Both with exceptional Test records and both make a lot of hundreds,” he said.
Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami are the other two Indians in his eleven which is dominated by Australians.
Ricky Ponting’s combined IND-AUS Test XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mohammad Shami