'He will be first choice in most teams' - Australia unsure about India's star players place in the WTC final XI

The Aussies continue to keep an eye on developments within the Indian camp, which stands in a split over the bowling combination. 
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Known for their meticulous planning and ruthless brand of cricket, the Australians are leaving no stone unturned in preparations to avenge their Border-Gavaskar Trophy loss at the much-anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final against India. 

Before they lock horns with their longstanding arch-rivals, the Aussies have been keeping an eye on developments within the Indian camp and preempting their likely playing XI to gain clarity on plans and undergo specific drills at practice. 

However, there is a miss, in that they don't yet know whether the Indians will bank on their famed spin duo by including the great R Ashwin in the side or would persist with the four-pronged pace battery and go ahead with Shardul Thakur at No.8. 

Assistant coach Daniel Vettori said they are pretty sure premier spin allrounder Ravindra Jadeja will be balancing India's playing XI once again. But it remains to be seen if Ashwin will combine in the middle with him on away shores after two years since the previous final of the WTC against New Zealand. 

Australia keeping an eye on India's Ashwin-Thakur split 

Ashwin would have fond memories of retaining the wood over Kiwi batters in the inaugural final of the Test Championship played in Southampton in 2021. The premier off-spinner delivered class spells of 2/28 & 2/17 across 25 overs in either innings. But India's defeat in the rain-marred fixture meant the great off-spinner was contentiously dropped for the following Patudi Trophy versus England in favour of Thakur. 

The Mumbaikar, who had been part of India's epic victory at The Gabba to close out a series win in Australia earlier that year, firmed up his stocks with encouraging performances through the England series and has ever since been India's trusted fourth-seamer overseas as the historic 3-2 combination stands on a backburner. 

"We have been debating that," Vettori was quoted as saying by the ICC at the sidelines of Australia's practise session in Kent. "I think Jadeja will play because of the batting he brings to the table and how successful he has been at that No.6 position."

"Then the question will be around that fourth seamer and the all-rounder in Thakur and Ashwin, but they are (both) pretty good choices."

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Preference to Thakur has led to a decline in the number of chances for Ashwin abroad at a time when the premier spinner is at the very peak of his prowess as an allround bowler. The experienced head has also been rejuvenating his Test batting since a famous match-saving knock at the SCG two years back. 

"Ashwin is an incredible bowler and he will be first choice in most teams, and just with their combinations it may lead to that (him missing selection)," Vettori said.

"We expect The Oval to behave how it always behaves. It is a good wicket, but it can offer a lot to the spinners as the game goes on."