London [UK], June 4 (ANI): Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting termed Australia as "slight favourites" over India to win the ICC World Test Championship final against India, which will start from June 7 onwards at The Oval.
In an event ahead of the WTC final between India and Australia at The Oval, Ponting said that his side is slight favourite to win the title clash. He said that conditions at The Oval are more suited to Australia as compared to India. The Aussie great also said that the lack of cricket played by Australia in recent times and the heavy dosage of competitive cricket in IPL 2023 to Indian players could also decide the match's outcome.
"Australia is slight favourites. The conditions are more suited to Australia as compared to India. These two teams have beaten more opposition than they have lost to. They deserved to finish first and second. Australia has not cricket as of late. On the other side, almost all Indian players have played extremely competitive cricket in IPL. One side comes into this match as fresh, while the other side is tired. A lot of such factors would affect the match," said Ponting.
Ponting also expressed that he wanted the concept to be around during his playing days so that he could have got some experience of playing in the final as well, which he compared to a World Cup final.
The Aussie great feels that pacer Michael Neser, who has replaced an injured Josh Hazlewood in the squad could sit out in favour of pacer Scott Boland, who will take the place of Hazlewood in the playing eleven.
"Neser has been playing well in County cricket as of late. Boland's records are unbelievable. In Australia, when there was anything in the surface at all to help bowlers, Boland was our best bowler. I think he will take Hazlewood's place."Neser has been in good form as he bagged 19 wickets in England's Country Championship for Glamorgan. He had also scored a century against Sussex.
In seven matches for Australia in WTC 2021-23, Boland took 28 wickets at an average of 13.42 and an economy rate of 2.18. His best bowling figures are 6/7.
Ponting, who was one of the best batters of the 2000s, termed his rival and legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar as "the leader of the pack" of great superstars players of his era.
"When I was coming through that time Sachin was the leader of the pack. Jacques Kallis was great too," said Ponting.
Both Ponting and Sachin are all-time great batters. In 664 matches, Sachin scored 34,357 runs at an average of 48.52, with 100 centuries and 164 fifties and the best score of 248. Ponting on the other hand sits below the Indian in third place with 27,483 runs at an average of 45.95 in 560 matches, with 71 centuries, 146 fifties and the best score of 257.
Ponting said that the rivalry between India and Australia is "one of the great rivalries" in the sport.
India and Australia have faced off in 106 Tests. India has won 32 matches, Australia has got 44 wins, while 29 matches ended in a draw and one in a tie. With India's two-Test series wins in Australia over the last few years and their domination at home against the Aussies, India's record in the last few years has seen improvement.
Out of 16 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia since 1996-97, India has won 10 series, while Australia has won five, with one ending in a draw.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat and Ishan Kishan (wk).Standby players: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David WarnerStandby players: Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw. (ANI)