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Cummins, Rohit reflect on WTC journey

World Test Championship Final between Australia and India begins at The Oval tomorrow

LONDON: Captains Pat Cummins and Rohit Sharma have sung the praises of their respective teams across the journey ahead of one last battle in the ICC World Test Championship Final 2023, a report on International Cricket Council’s website said.

The World Test Championship Final 2023 between Australia and India will be played at The Oval from June 7-11.

The Australia and India skippers were both quick to acknowledge the hard work of their teammates, toiling across the globe in the longest format in a bid to be crowned WTC champions, while speaking to Sanjana Ganesan at the Captains’ Photo event ahead of the decider.

Australia raced away from the pack early on in the cycle, trouncing Ashes rivals England 4-0 on home soil, consolidated with an away series win in Pakistan, and took vital points after a 1-1 draw away in Sri Lanka.

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Home series against West Indies and South Africa all but assured their spot in the WTC Final, taking some stress away from their trip to India to end their cycle, though a victory in Indore ensured a first-place finish on the WTC standings.

Cummins feels the chance to claim the mace this week is a just reward for the team’s efforts throughout their travels.

“It’s really satisfying (to be here). You’ve got to win lots of games, not only at home but away,” Cummins said.

“The team has been excellent over the last few years and they deserve to be here in the Final. It’s all to play for. It’s exciting.”

India by contrast were the side with more work to do come their last series of the cycle, though were professional against the Australians on home soil.

Claiming a 2-1 series win over this week’s opponents was enough to cement their spot in the WTC Final, brushing aside the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka, and even a late surge from an evolving England side late in the cycle.

Rohit echoed the sentiments of his opposite number, acknowledging the team’s versatility across all conditions as they claimed away victories against England and South Africa early on their path to ensure an easier run home.

“Overall, if you look at the consistent cricket that we played, we displayed good cricket all around,” Rohit said.

“It’s a very tough tournament. We’ve got to play consistent cricket throughout the couple of years to get here.

“You need all the departments to do well for you. And I thought our strength really has been all three departments.”

The latest series between the two eventual WTC finalists was just another chapter in what has been a fierce rivalry on the field.

A neutral Test is tipped to level the scales between the sides, though India also enjoy bragging rights with series wins on their last two trips to Australia.

India will bask in more support at The Oval, and the pair, who will likely go toe-to-toe at opposite ends of the pitch, chuckled at the prospect that neutrals too will likely side with Rohit’s side, especially with an Ashes campaign coming next for the Australians from June 16.

“It (a neutral venue) is something different for both teams. No home support, although I think we usually get a bit more support anywhere we play,” Rohit said with a smile.

“But no, it’s always been nice, coming and playing at neutral venues for us.

“It’s not just the two or three years of rivalry. There’s so much history behind the two teams taking on each other. So that is what makes it more exciting, not just for the players but also for the people who are watching from all parts of the world.”

Cummins added that the WTC Final adds another dimension to the rivalry, already stoked by recent meetings and players sharing dressing rooms in domestic cricket.

“I think through IPL we know a lot of the guys now as well, which always kind of has some healthy battles.

“I think in a lot of ways we play a similar style. Some quick bowlers, the batters want to get out there and take the game on, and there’s been really close battles over the last few years, so it’s going to be a bit different playing in a neutral venue but it should be good fun.”

Curiously, the pair looked at potential glory in different ways when asked what a WTC Final win would mean for each of them.

For Cummins, the mace represents the final piece of silverware needed to make its way into the men’s side’s trophy cabinet.

“It’s a trophy we haven’t won in Australian cricket,” Cummins said.

“Test Cricket for me is always the pinnacle.

“I’ve had some great series wins over the years, but to play in this tournament … I think it could be the most special.”

Comparatively, India’s captain looked to it being a reward of recent graft, having bounced back from a 2021 WTC Final defeat with a strong 2021-2023 cycle.

“It’ll mean everything to us. This is the ultimate format, the most challenging format,” Rohit said. “So to come out on top in this particular format will be great because it’s not the effort for a month or two, it’s the effort that we put in for the last few years.”

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