This week’s World Test Championship final between Australia and India is worth $11 million to the victor and $800,000 to the loser.
The Oval game, which kicks off on Wednesday, is the result of a two-year qualifying process.
The three key battles that could impact the outcome of the championship game are examined here:
1.Steve Smith vs Cheteshwar Pujara:
Prior to the final, several members of Australia’s team spent time playing for county teams in England. However, India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara found himself captaining fellow number three Steve Smith during the Australian star’s brief stay with Sussex.
Pujara, 35, had a strong stretch for Sussex in April and May that included three hundreds in six innings, while Smith’s best performance was an 89.
But Smith has a stellar Test record at the Oval, averaging close to 98 and scoring two hundreds in three games.
It makes sense why the 34-year-old described the Oval as “a wonderful place to play cricket in.”
“Lightning-fast outfield, the square goes the entire way across the ground so it is a nice place to bat when you get in and has some decent pace and bounce for an English surface,” he said.
Given the strength of India’s limited-overs sides, Pujara, unlike Smith, is now a one-format player, but his methodical approach to accumulating runs against a potent Australia pace attack could be advantageous.
In addition to talking about batting, Puji also serves as the captain of Sussex, so he has a good grasp of tactics and strategy, according to India coach Rahul Dravid.
2. Pat Cummins vs Mohammed Shami
In the absence of injured quicks Josh Hazlewood and Jasprit Bumrah, Australia’s Pat Cummins and rival Indian paceman Mohammed Shami will both be given more responsibility.
The now 30-year-old Cummins led Australia’s attack during the drawn 2019 Ashes series in England, taking 29 wickets in five games for a pitiful average of 19 point 62.
Shami may not have comparable statistics, but when he performs at his peak, the veteran seamer gives India captain Rohit Sharma excellent fielding control.
3. Nathan Lyon vs Ravichandran Aswhin
Australia’s Nathan Lyon, an off-spinner with 482 Test wickets at an average of just over 31, has been the nation’s top specialist slow bowler for more than ten years.
With 474 Test wickets at 23.93, India’s Ravichandran Ashwin is also nearly at 500.
India has occasionally been hesitant to play Ashwin in English conditions.
However, a dry pitch anticipated to turn could mean Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin, who leads the ICC Test bowling rankings, are used together.
With 114 wickets at an average under 29, Ashwin has a strong Test record against Australia. In the earlier this year home series victory over Australia, he and Jadeja shared the player-of-the-series honor.