'If Bumrah was here...': Shastri's take on 'favourites' tag for WTC final; Ponting, Akram make their picks

Jun 05, 2023 07:11 AM IST

Ahead of the final, Shastri made a big ‘Jasprit Bumrah’ remark pertaining to the favourites tag while legends Ricky Ponting and Wasim Akram made their picks.

It is the time of the year for the most anticipated Test match as world no.1 India face Australia in the World Test Championship final at The Oval starting June 7. India, the runners-up of the 2021 final at the Lord's, are gunning for their maiden ICC Test Mace and their first ever ICC trophy in over a decade. Australia, on the other hand, will be be playing their first final after narrowly missing out in the inaugural cycle owing to slow-over rate penalty. Ahead of the big match, former India head coach Ravi Shastri made a big ‘Jasprit Bumrah’ remark pertaining to the favourites tag while legends Ricky Ponting and Wasim Akram also made their picks.

Jasprit Bumrah; Ravi Shastri
Jasprit Bumrah; Ravi Shastri

It's an injury-laden Indian side that has travelled to London for the final. Bumrah has been out with a back injury since September, Rishabh Pant has been recovering from the tragic car accident he incurred in December. Shreyas Iyer is out with a back injury as well while KL Rahul incurred a hamstring injury during the IPL 2023 season.

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However, Shastri, in a conversation on Star Sports, valued Bumrah's absence the highest. When asked who stands as the favourites in the contest, the former India all-rounder looked at the two bowling attacks and opined that with Bumrah absent, Australia become slight favourites.

“Look at the pace attacks. Which side has the better attack? If Bumrah was here, then I would say equal, with Shami, Bumrah and Siraj. But now when you look at that Australian attack - Cummins and Starc, though Hazlewood is gone,” he said.

Ponting, who was part of the panel, added to the Australian attack that Steve Boland will be the ideal replacement for injured Hazlewood despite Aussies naming an in-form Michael Nesser as a replacement.

“Nesser has obviously been doing great here in County cricket but Boland has got an excellent record. What we have seen in Australia is that when there is anything in the surface at all, he has just been about Australia's best bowler. He will take Hazlewood's place,” he said.

When asked about the WTC final, Ponting picked Australia as favourites. “Slight favourites, yes. There wasn't much a difference between the two sides in the last two years which means that they have beaten more oppositions than they have lost to,” he explained. Akram sided with the former Australia skipper as well, saying, “Australia slight favorites.”

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