Aaron Finch: Two worthy finalists, Aus need to stop Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara | Cricket News

Aaron Finch: Two worthy finalists, Aus need to stop Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Former Australia captain Aaron Finch feels Australia will have to pay special attention to Test powerhouse Cheteshwar Pujara and the currently in-form Virat Kohli when they face India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval, starting June 7.
On the flip side, Finch feels that in order to establish a strong hold on the Test match, India will need to dismiss the experienced Test stalwarts Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne early.
Pujara has been playing for Sussex in the English County Championship and is perhaps the best suited, amongst the Indian squad, to exploit the conditions.

(Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)
Since April, Pujara has played 8 innings for Sussex and has scored 545 runs, including three centuries and one fifty.
Pujara has 2033 runs and five centuries in 24 Tests against Australia at an average of 50.82.
On the other hand, Virat has been in ominous touch. He found his lost mojo in international cricket and then carried that form into the IPL. The Indian batting run machine cracked two centuries and six half-tons for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League season.
“If India can get Smith and Marnus early, the game will be on their side. It will be difficult for India if they are set. The same is with Australia. If they get Virat and Pujara, things will be easy for them. it’s just about taking the opportunities,” Finch told TimesofIndia.com in an interview.


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Virat’s love affair with the Aussies is no secret. He has played 24 Tests against Australia and scored 1979 runs at an average of 48.26, including 8 centuries and 5 fifties.
“He (Virat) is in superb touch. It was a great inning by Virat in the last Test (186 vs Australia in Ahmedabad). He played pretty flawless cricket. He took the risk out of his game. He was just so focused. That was a great innings by him. I have played with him at RCB. It was awesome playing with him. I loved my time there. I enjoyed playing with him,” Finch further said.
The Aussies suffered a blow with Josh Hazlewood being officially ruled out of the WTC Final. The Aussies camp is hoping Hazlewood will be fit in time for the Ashes, which begin on June 16.
But despite the loss of Hazlewood, the Aussies have the likes of Mitchell Starc and captain Pat Cummins in their fast bowling department. Overall, man for man, it’s difficult to pick the stronger team, though some experts have give the Aussies the edge due to the swinging conditions in England and the fact that most of their players, barring Cameron Green and David Warner did not play in the IPL and therefore will be fresher.


(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Marnus Labuschagne has also been playing competitive cricket, but in the County Championship with Glamorgan and will also be finely tuned for the conditions at the Oval.
“There are many players who can turn things around. You look at both batting lineups and both bowling lineups, they’re very evenly matched in terms of the power and with the opportunity with the ball. Some great fast bowlers, some of the greatest spinners of all time, and then strong batting lineups,” Finch further told TimesofIndia.com.
Overall, India and Australia have faced each other in 106 Tests. India have won 32 matches, Australia have emerged victorious on 44 occasions, while 29 matches ended in a draw and one in a tie. India have also dominated Australia in Australia in the last two Test series (Border-Gavaskar Trophy).

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As the WTC final is set to kick off on June 7, Finch feels the grand finale will be an exciting contest.
“It’s great for both teams to qualify for the final. They’ve probably been the two benchmark Test teams for a while, both home and away. So that’s been really impressive. I think Australia played some great cricket in India. But just that one hour of madness in Delhi cost them a chance to win the series. But overall, I think very, very worthy finalists. The final is going to be really exciting. Both teams look strong on paper. We will witness an exciting match. Both are well aware of the English conditions,” Finch said.
Rohit Sharma’s Team India retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy in March earlier this year.
The tracks of Nagpur and Delhi, the venues for the first two Tests of the four-match series between the two teams, were rated “average” by match referee Andy Pycroft.


The pitch at Indore, the venue for the third Test, was rated “poor” by the ICC. Due to this, the Holkar Stadium was given three demerit points.
The Indore Test ended midway through the first session of the third day with Australia winning by nine wickets. Australia spinner Nathan Lyon bagged the Man of the Match award for taking 11 wickets in the match.
Should the home team always get the benefit of tracks of their choice?
To this Finch said: “That’s what a home game or series is all about. Yeah. We probably saw it a little bit too extreme with the ball turning square from day one off the middle of the pitch. If it deteriorates from the rough and everything and becomes a real challenge that’s okay but maybe not two-day Test matches. If they go three days, that’s okay.”
“But we saw at the GABA, the curator got it wrong. He said he got it wrong. So, it’s a fine line in curating as well. But the home team definitely should make tracks that suit their strengths,” Finch signed off.

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