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WTC Final: Can Team India’s ‘old’ middle order play the new-age game?

India’s middle order in Test matches stands dangerously, especially for the WTC Final. In their mid-30s, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane are batting to demonstrate that they have the strength to push India’s batting through even the most difficult obstacles. The key test of their readiness will be against Australia in the World Test Championship final at the Oval in London.

In the past 18 months, Pujara and Rahane have gone from being India’s batting veterans to being dropped to battling their way back through domestic work while Kohli tried to show he could still make a significant difference in Test matches.

Also read, The breaking point: Why are Indian fast bowlers getting injured frequently?

Players to Watch for WTC Final:

Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer were being groomed by Team India’s head coach Rahul Dravid into the future foundation of the middle order.

Prior to taking on the position with the senior team in November 2021, Dravid sought to expand the talent pool he had cultivated during his tenure as the head of India’s developmental teams. He really couldn’t be faulted. With the tour of Australia in 2020–2021, Pant’s rise to the middle order was meteoric, and he quickly established himself as an unstoppable force. Iyer also began progressing well by making important plays in pressing circumstances.

Unexpectedly, Ravindra Jadeja also became a trustworthy Test hitter. With the support of the lower order, these three became accustomed to saving numerous Indian innings.

It’s intriguing that prior to the historic victory in Australia, the team management led by Kohli resisted having Pant join the first XI on a regular basis. With their eyes closed, Pujara, Kohli, and Rahane were selected first. Rahane has returned to the squad after two and a half years, and the current team management is hopeful he can take Pant’s place at No. 5 in the lineup.

In essence, it is up to India’s most seasoned trio to make up for Pant and Iyer’s absence. It also reflects the selectors’ difficulty to discover a second line following Pant and Iyer and their need to revert to the tried-and-true candidates.

One needs to look past the straightforward numbers that Pant, Iyer, and Jadeja have provided. Pant’s extremely aggressive counterattacking strategy, which Iyer and Jadeja expertly matched, served as something of a forerunner to England’s newly discovered all-out style of Test cricket. The traditional grind-it-out style of batting in Test cricket has evolved. This style of cricket, which is frequently characterised as reckless, has evolved into some of the top teams’ Plan A for success in the longest format.

Since the current middle order trio is missing, the particularly senior players of the Indian Squad will have to take care of WTC Final. It will obviously require more training and efforts to match the strength of the younger players, but that’s what it’s gonna take to win the WTC Final.

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