Former Australian great Ian Chappell believes India would have been overwhelming favourites for the World Test Championship (WTC) final if not for the absence of Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah. Chappell also reckons Hardik Pandya's inclusion would have made India's squad complete.
Pant was involved in a car accident late last year and suffered life-threatening injuries. The keeper-batter underwent multiple surgeries but will most likely miss the entire year of 2023 in order to fully recuperate. Meanwhile, pacer Bumrah has been out with a back issue since September 2022.
Chappell reckons injuries to Pant and Bumrah impact India's chances significantly. He suggested that Pandya's presence would have provided a good balance to the Indian side.
"The injuries to Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant badly affect India, as they would be outright favourites with these two playing. The somewhat surprising unavailability of allrounder Hardik Pandya also harms India, as he could have provided them with the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle," the 79-year-old wrote in his column for ESPN Cricinfo.
Nevertheless, the South Australian observed that India have the luxury to play two spinners, elaborating:
"India have an advantage in spin bowling because of Ravindra Jadeja's ability to bat in the top six, which allows them the luxury of including the efficient R Ashwin. While Nathan Lyon is a good bowler, he will be Australia's sole spinner."
Ian Chappell expects Indian youngster to be a 'headache' for Australia
Chappell warned Pat Cummins and co. that Shubman Gill's free-flowing approach could spell trouble for them; however, he expects the conditions to be favorable for Australia's pace trio.
"The Australian bowlers also need to pay careful attention to Shubman Gill. He tends to play with no fear and has a stroke-making mentality, which will not change even on this momentous occasion. If he is allowed the freedom to score quickly and hit boundaries, Gill will be a headache for Australia. If Australia's classy pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood are available, that makes them slight favourites. They are good bowlers any time, but England in early June should be right up their alley."
The final will start on June 7th at The Oval.
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