Notably, Rahane was dropped from the team early last year after his poor run of form. However, he has been called back following a very good show in domestic cricket and the ongoing IPL 2023. The injury of the middle-order batter made his comeback easier than expected.
Gavaskar has inducted Rahane straight into his eleven at number five. Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma are the designated openers in his team, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli following them at number four and five.
Further, the 73-year-old has included out-of-form KL Rahul at six as a wicketkeeper-batter. KS Bharat, who kept wickets for India in all the four matches of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, has not found a place in Gavaskar’s India’s eleven for the WTC final.
He has also kept Shardul Thakur – the only seam bowling all-rounder option in the team – out of his best eleven. Instead, the former opener has included both the spin-bowling all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandra Ashwin.
Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami are joined by Jaydev Unadkat as the third pacer in the team. Gavaskar has left out experienced Umesh Yadav also out of the eleven.
“Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill will be my opening picks, Cheteshwar Pujara at three, Virat Kohli at four, Ajinkya Rahane at five, KL Rahul at six who’ll keep the wickets as well. Then there will be Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, followed by Jaidev Unadkat, Mohammed Shami and Mohd Siraj,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
“That was the only change needed for the Indian side. They needed a replacement for Shreyas Iyer. Ajinkya Rahane finds himself in the WTC squad not because of his current IPL form, mind you, he was in a pretty decent form in the Ranji Trophy. He did very well for Mumbai in the domestic season,” he added.
Sunil Gavaskar’s India Playing 11 for WTC Final: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma (c), Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj
Gavaskar backing India to out-bat Australia
While taking the field with three pacers could not be a justified selection for many, Gavaskar’s decision is very likely motivated by the idea of India batting deep and batting Australia out of the match. Here’s what he said.
“I’m backing India to out-bat Australia because if you look at the Indian batting lineup, at number 8 we have (Ravichandran) Ashwin who has five Test hundreds and the Oval is generally a very good pitch to bat on. You win the toss, put up a big score on the first two days, then you don’t have to bat in the second innings,” said Gavaskar.
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