World Test Championship Final: Switching to Test mode

Portsmouth, May 31

The Indian team is focussing on building workload for the bowlers, who had an extensive run in the IPL, ahead of the World Test Championship final against Australia starting on June 7 at The Oval in London.

In the bowling department, while the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav were part of the first batch to travel to England, pace spearhead Mohammed Shami’s departure was delayed as the IPL final in Ahmedabad was moved to the reserve day after incessant rain.

Virat Kohli was also among the players who left in the first batch along with the Rahul Dravid-led coaching staff. Kohli joined the camp on Monday along with Cheteshwar Pujara, who linked up with the squad in England as he was busy playing the County Championship for Sussex.

The Indian team is expected to have a few practice sessions at the Arundel Castle Cricket Club in Sussex ahead of the big final.

“The preparation has been good so far,” said India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey. “The initial bit was to ease into the practice session but the last two sessions hellip; I think we pushed them a little bit. Just adding a little bit of workload for the bowlers, just kind of preparing them for the Test match. We have two more sessions now, we want to build up especially with the bowlers,” he added.

“We are happy with the conditions, I think it is a lovely ground, it is kind of what you can expect. The weather is holding up, it has been sunny, a little windy, a little chill, but something that we have to get used to when playing in England,” he added.

Fielding coach T Dilip said the focus will be on close-in catching. “The players are coming from the IPL so a key thing for us to take care of was the workload. Ground fielding has been covered in the IPL, so the focus here is more on the volume of catching, especially the close-in catching,” Dilip said.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour said the focus will also be on adapting to the longest format. “They have all played a lot of cricket. Whatever time we are getting, it is about adapting to a different format, getting used to playing with the red ball and getting a few sessions in and getting used to the format,” Rathour said.

Indian conditions at Oval?

London: Australia’s batting mainstay Steve Smith is expecting batting-friendly conditions at The Oval for the WTC final but feels they could face conditions similar to those in India as the game goes on. The venue offers one of the best batting conditions in the UK with true pace and bounce.

India are expected to play their frontline spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in their bid to make the most of the conditions.

“The Oval can present itself with some spin occasionally particularly as the game wears on so we could face some sort of similarities to what we had in India at certain stages of the game,” Smith said. “But The Oval is a wonderful place to play cricket at — lightning-fast outfield and has some decent pace and bounce for an English surface,” he said. — PTI

Former selector picks Umesh over Shardul

New Delhi: Former India selector Sarandeep Singh said picking KS Bharat over Ishan Kishan as the wicketkeeper for the WTC final is a no-brainer and he would also choose Umesh Yadav over Shardul Thakur in the Playing XI. “Bharat is a proper Test wicketkeeper and we saw that against Australia at home, he kept superbly. He has been around for a while and he should get the opportunity,” Sarandeep said. While Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will share the workload in the pace department, the team will need to choose between Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur as the third fast-bowling option. “I am picking Umesh ahead of Shardul because he has that extra pace and he can reverse the old ball, he can be very helpful on that Oval track,” he said. PTI

Hazlewood praises Kohli’s work ethic

London: Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood has spoken highly of Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates Virat Kohli ahead of the World Test Championship final. “I think it’s probably how hard he (Kohli) works that stands out. His fitness first of all and then his skill work and batting and fielding in particular. He is always out there (training) first and leaves last hellip; and the intensity he trains at all the time is at such a high level, it drags everyone else along for the ride. That can leak on to the other players and improve them as well,” Hazlewood said. Hazlewood, who has been battling with multiple injuries over the last six months, had to cut short his IPL stint due a side issue. However, he feels he is not far from bowling full tilt as Australia gear up for the big final. “My fitness is pretty good and it is just a matter of ticking off every session from here until that date (June 7) basically,” he said.

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