NEW DELHI: Former Australia captain Ian Chappell said India will be badly affected by the absence of injured cricketers Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant while playing in the World Test Championship final against Australia at The Oval from June 7-11.
He further expressed surprise at the unavailability of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who last played a Test match in 2018. Apart from the trio, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are unavailable for the one-off finale due to injuries.
"The injuries to Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant will badly affect India, as they would be outright favourites with these two playing. The somewhat surprising unavailability of allrounder Hardik Pandya also harms India, as he could have provided them with the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle," wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo.
Chappell also feels Australia's fast-bowling attack is slightly ahead of India when compared while adding that the Rohit Sharma-led side has the upper hand in the spin-bowling department.
"If Australia's classy pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are available, that makes them slight favourites. They are good bowlers any time, but England in early June should be right up their alley."
"Nevertheless, an Indian pace attack containing Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav is also strong and only just behind the Australian trio in wicket-taking capability."
"India have an advantage in spin bowling because of Ravindra Jadeja's ability to bat in the top six, which allows them the luxury of including the efficient R Ashwin. While Nathan Lyon is a good bowler, he will be Australia's sole spinner. However, this shouldn't be detrimental in England, as allrounder Cameron Green's genuine pace is well suited to the conditions," he added.
Chappell pointed out that mental resilience will play a big part in the WTC final, while cautioning Australia against giving an in-form Shubman Gill easy chances to get boundaries. "Mental strength will play a huge part in this Test. The team that displays the most resilience is likely to win as long as the contest is not unduly affected by bad weather. Being able to maintain a decent line and length under attack is now mandatory in the tougher series, and a fully fit Australian attack should benefit if the opposition are overzealous."
"Therefore much will depend on how the batters treat the talented opposing pace attacks. Australia rely heavily on Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja's big scoring ability but the enigmatic David Warner shouldn't be overlooked. Despite his struggles in England, Warner is a dangerous player because he can score quickly. If he gets a start, India need to be wary because of the danger Warner presents."
"On the Indian side Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara are a handful because they have enjoyed success in Test cricket. Their job will be tough against a strong Australian attack."
"The Australian bowlers also need to pay careful attention to Shubman Gill. He tends to play with no fear and has a stroke-making mentality, which will not change even on this momentous occasion. If he is allowed the freedom to score quickly and hit boundaries, Gill will be a headache for Australia," he concluded.