The World Test Championship final got off to a disappointing start for Team India as they struggled to contain the Australian batting line-up on the first day at The Oval. Despite making an impressive start by taking early wickets, India’s bowlers could not maintain their momentum against a resilient partnership between Travis Head and Steve Smith.
Opting to bowl first after winning the toss, Rohit Sharma’s Indian team quickly showed promise by dismissing three Australian batsmen. The early breakthroughs created an optimistic atmosphere, but their joy was short-lived as Head and Smith counterattacked with an exceptional partnership. The duo’s unbeaten stand of 251 runs shifted the momentum in Australia’s favor, leaving the Indian bowlers struggling to find breakthroughs.
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja criticized Team India’s lack of preparation for the final. Raja suggested that the Indian players should have played practice matches in England to acclimatize to the pitch conditions and weather. He pointed out the challenge of transitioning from sub-continent conditions to the cold climates of England within a short period, emphasizing the need for sufficient adjustment time.
The Indian players’ arrival in England in multiple groups due to the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) created additional challenges. The IPL, which concluded on May 29, left the players with limited time to adjust to the different conditions in England. Raja was perplexed at the lack of inter-squad matches or even a few one-day matches to help the team acclimate before the final.
“One-off Tests are difficult to assess what you have to do. A team comes from sub-continent conditions to these cold climates and must adjust in 5-6 days. That too, without even playing a game. I don’t understand. This is the WTC Final; India should have had inter-squad matches before this. Even if you had played 3-4 one-day matches, you get acclimatized to the conditions,” Raja said on his official YouTube channel.
Raja highlighted the significant differences in pitch conditions and weather between the IPL and the World Test Championship final. He emphasized the necessity for bowlers to adjust their lines and lengths accordingly. The demanding workload of bowling longer spells in Test matches after the relatively shorter stints in the IPL was also cited as a factor that required proper rest and adjustment.
“It’s overcast, and the pitch conditions are quite different. You want to have an adjustment. Bowlers also need to adjust their lines and lengths here. After four overs in IPL, you must bowl 17 here in a day. The body needs rest,” he added further.