The Australian team are set to face India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Ovals in London starting on June 7.
Australia topped the WTC points table in the 2021-23 cycle with 66.67 points per cent in 19 Tests, while India made its cut for the final with 58.8 per cent. In the first WTC final, New Zealand became the champions of Test cricket after beating India at Southampton in 2021, as the WTC event has a two-year cycle.
Australia missed by a narrow margin entering the WTC final in 2021 due to a slow over-rate penalty, but this time they played brilliantly and reached the final in England.
Australia qualified for the WTC final in the top spot. They played 19 matches and won 11 of them, while India earned 10 wins after playing 18 test matches.
Before the Aussies play to claim the Test Championship, let’s see the journey of Australia to reach the final against India.
Ashes (England vs Australia) – December 2021-January 2022 (won 4-0)
The Aussies outplayed England in the Ashes series held between December 2021 and January 2022. They won the series 4-0.
In the first test, they won comfortably by nine wickets. Pat Cummins’s clobbering bowling spell bundled the England side for just 147 runs in the first innings. Then, Travis Head played a blistering knock of 152, and David Warner’s 94 helped Australia post 425 in the first inning.
In the second innings, spinner Nathan Lyon did the job and restricted England to 297. Australia chased the 19-run target quickly.
The second test had the same story, Steve Smith took charge of Australia for the first time since the infamous ball-tampering incident in 2018, but the setback was insignificant as the hosts dominated the match from the start.
With scores of 103 and 51, Marnus Labuschagne secured the No. 1 Test-batter rating, while Alex Carey produced a half-century in front of his home crowd in only his second Test, and Travis Head extended his hot start to the series with 51 in the second innings. Australia won the match by 275 runs.
In the third match, England’s batting lineup crumbled and Australia registered a big win by an innings and 14 runs. In the first innings, Pat Cummins’s 3/36 and Nathan Lyon’s 3/36 had restricted England to 185. And in the second innings, Scott Boland performed exceptionally well and took six wickets by conceding only seven runs. Mitchell Starc had taken three wickets.
The fourth test was a draw, however, Usman Khawaja displayed his talent with 137 runs and Scott Boland was the pick of the bowlers as he had the bowling figures of 4/36 in the first innings and 3/30 in the second innings.
The fifth and last match was won by 146 runs, Cameron Green contributed 74 runs as Australia recovered from 4-83 to record 303 batting first. Pat Cummins got seven wickets throughout the match, with Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, and Green each getting three to conclude England’s terrible tour.
Benaud-Qadir Trophy-Pakistan, March 2022 (won 1-0)
Australia toured Pakistan after 24 years and the Cummins-led side defeated the host by 1-0. The two matches went to draw. But in the last test in Lahore, the Aussies came out victorious by 115 runs.
Warne-Muralidaran Trophy, June-July 2022 (drawn 1-1)
In the two-match series against Sri Lanka in their home venue. Australia won the first test by 10 wickets but in the second test, they had to face defeat by an innings and 39 runs.
Frank Worrell Trophy-West Indies, November-December 2022 (2-0)
Following their hosting of the T20 World Cup, Australia began their five-Test home season against a West Indies side that had gone undefeated in their previous five matches, having defeated England 1-0 and Bangladesh 2-0 in the previous home series. They claimed the series by 2-0, winning the first two matches and making the third match draw.
Australia v South Africa – December 2022-January 2023 (won 2-0)
Australia outplayed South Africa in a three-match series. In the first test in Gabba, they won by six wickets. Followed by a dominating win in the second test by an innings and 182 runs at the MCG. The third test was drawn.
Border Gavaskar Trophy, February-March 2023 (lost 1-2)
The Australian challenge arrived at India as India’s final obstacle towards the WTC final. In the first Test, an all-round show by Ravindra Jadeja (70 and seven wickets), and a century by Rohit Sharma (120) helped India win by an innings and 132 runs.
In the second Test, a half-century by Axar Patel (74) and yet another all-round masterclass by Jadeja (26 and 10 wickets including a spell of 7/62) helped India win by six wickets. Jadeja’s seven-wicket haul crumbled the Aussies to just 113 runs while following on, leaving India to chase 115 runs. India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-0 lead.
A spin exhibition by legendary Nathan Lyon (3/35 and 8/64) helped Australia win a low-scoring third Test by nine wickets to stay alive in the series. The scoreline was 2-1.
In the final Test, Virat Kohli (186) outclassed Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) in a high-scoring match, which ended in a draw. India won the series 2-1.
Australia squad for WTC final: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner
Standby players: Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat and Ishan Kishan (wk).
Standby players: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav.