Kohli among first batch of players to leave for WTC final

New Delhi: Virat Kohli will be among the first batch of India players to leave for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia in London, departing in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate Mohammad Siraj will also board the same flight, a day after their team was knocked out of the IPL. Spinners R Ashwin and Axar Patel, and all-rounder Shardul Thakur, will also be on the flight as well as the team’s support staff led by Rahul Dravid.
The two other players who complete the first list of seven cricketers are Kolkata Knight Riders pacer Umesh Yadav and Lucknow Super Giants’ Jaydev Unadkat, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.
The final will be played at the Oval from June 7-11.
“There will be two or three departures in total. The first batch leaves at 4.30 am tomorrow,” said a BCCI source.
The seven players, who will stay back in India for the IPL playoffs, include skipper Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Mohammad Shami, K S Bharat and Ajinkya Rahane.
Cheteshwar Pujara is already playing county cricket in England and will link up with the squad in London.
It must be mentioned that India won’t play any warm-up game as the English County Championship is on and also this being an ICC event, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is under no obligation to arrange practice matches for the visiting team.
“Also if we play against a select county XI, it will comprise mostly second team or development squad players, as first team players are not released during the championship. Playing against a weak opposition doesn’t help in quality practice,” a BCCI source told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
While the majority of the Indian team players are going into the title clash after two months of IPL, only three WTC-bound Australians played in the richest T20 league.
Last week, the great Ricky Ponting said the Aussies will be mentally better prepared for the final but the Indians will have valuable game time behind them.
“There are two ways to look at this. For someone like Virat, is he better off playing now and scoring runs at a consistent basis and have confidence going into a game rather than the Australians back home who haven’t been playing much cricket but will be mentally better prepared,” Ponting had said.
India, who finished runners-up in 2021, will be aiming to win their first ICC trophy in 10 years.

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