Ricky Ponting believes Australia are ‘narrow favourites’ to win the World Test Championship final against India.
Australia and India meet at The Oval on Wednesday hoping to be crowned world Test champions.
Pat Cummins’ side, who face England in the Ashes after the clash with India, qualified for the final after finishing top of the nine-team table.
Australia won 11 of their 19 Tests in the two-year qualifying window – with their one series defeat coming at the hands of India earlier in the year.
India, who finished second in the WTC campaign, have won their last four series against Australia but Ponting believes his countrymen have the edge ahead of the World Test Championship final.
‘Australia are just favourites,’ former Baggy Greens captain Ponting told the ICC. ‘India have got a couple of little uncertain areas in their team I think in terms of how selection and injuries are concerned.
‘With KL Rahul not being there, (Jasprit) Bumrah obviously not being there, Umesh Yadav’s had a bit of an injury cloud over his head, which keeper do they want to take – do they go with Ishan Kishan of KS Bharat?
‘I think Australia are going to be a lot more settled and then when you think about conditions here as well, these early June conditions probably more like Australian conditions than they are Indian conditions.
‘But saying that we all know how well India played in Australia last time they were there, so I just think on the back of their work that they’ve done, Australia I think start narrow favourites.’
Despite being scheduled as a five-day Test match, a sixth day has been made available as a reserve day in case time is lost due to poor weather.
If the match ends as a draw, the £1.93m prize money and the Test mace will be shared and Australia and India named joint-winners.
New Zealand were crowned the inaugural World Test Championship champions after beating India by eight wickets at the Rose Bowl in 2021.
Discussing India’s chances ahead of the 2023 final, former head coach Ravi Shastri said: ‘In a one-off game it’s not easy.
‘I think the first punch will count on day one. I think Pat Cummins will be charged up for Australia, and I think Mohammed Shami for India will be key.’
Australia will immediately turn their attentions to the Ashes following the World Test Championship final, with a five-match series against England starting on June 16.
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