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WTC 2023: Australia avoid hurdles, ride smoothly on its road to final

The Australian team missed out on a place in the WTC final last time around. But this time they are in. Here's how they made it to the WTC final 2023

Josh Hazlewood, Australia cricket team

Josh Hazlewood takes five wickets. Photo: @ICC

Abhishek Singh New Delhi

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Australia, which missed out narrowly on a berth in the final of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, made sure that they did not lag behind this time around. Last time it was the four points penalty for slow over-rate that cost them a seat in the final. To make sure nothing of that sort happens this time around, the Aussies tried to win everything they can. Here’s their road to the final. 

Sorted out the captaincy issue just in time before Ashes

Tim Paine, who was the captain of Australia, had to resign after facing an unsavoury texting scandal. His career took a different path altogether. Justin Langer, the coach that won Australia its first-ever T20 World Cup, remained in his position even as pressure mounted on him from all ends. 

With non-cricketing things done, the focus shifted to the game and Australia’s new captain Pat Cummins made sure that game remained the only focal point as they smashed the visitors England 5-0 in the Ahses to start their WTC 2021-23 cycles in style.

Langer resigned after the victory while Usman Khawaja and Travis Head cemented their place in the playing 11. 

Beat Pakistan in Pakistan courtesy of spin 

It was the first time in 24 years that Australia toured Pakistan. The first two matches of the three-match series remained resultless thanks to the lifeless pitches of Rawalpindi and Karachi. In the third Test at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore, Nathan Lyon picked five wickets in the second innings as Pakistan fought to secure a draw. The Aussies recorded a 115-run victory and marched to Sri Lanka confidently. 

Also Read: WTC Final 2023: India's road was full of thrills, last-minute hurdles

Drew series against Sri Lanka in the Lankan territory 

Having been whitewashed for the first time in a Test series against Sri Lanka the last time around when they were here (0-3 in 2016), the Aussies made sure that nothing of that sort was repeated as they beat the Lankans in the first Test of the three-match series and continued their unbeaten run in WTC 2021-23. 

However, a double century by Dinesh Chandimal and a double five-wicket haul in his debut match by Prabath Jayasuriya nullified the first innings centuries by Marnus Labushcagne and Steve Smith as the Lankans beat the Aussies by an inning and 39 runs to draw the series. 

Clean sweep against West Indies, series win against Proteas

After their first-ever loss in the WTC cycle, Australia had moved down to the second position in the points table. But the second was still good to qualify. 

However, Pat Cummins and co knew that their road would get tougher as they would face India in India in early 2023. To make sure that they are able to cope with that pressure, the Aussie started accumulating wins and running ahead of the rest of the teams in the WTC points table. 

Firstly the Aussies made light work of the West Indian challenge, clean sweeping them 2-0 with easy victories in both the games at Perth (Won by 164 runs) and Adelaide (won by 419 runs). 

Having regained the first position in the WTC points table after the West Indian clean sweep, Australia faced South Africa. But the Proteas never even showed up as they were beaten comprehensively in the first two Tests. The third Test was rained out and Dean Elgar-led South Africa were saved from a whitewash. 

Elusive win at Indore seals it for the Aussies in India 

Having not lost even a single series and let down only one match in the 15 that they played before arriving in India, the Aussies had almost secured their place in the final and only miracles could have denied them a visit to England in June. 

The miracle could have been a 0-4 loss to India and then Sri Lanka going on to win against New Zealand. They lost back-to-back Tests and seemed like the 4-0 whitewash was on the cards before Nathan Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann bowled brilliantly to pick 16 out of the 20 Indian wickets and beat the home team by nine wickets in Indore. 

The Indore win broke the deadlock and Australia entered the finals. They even went on to draw the fourth Test in Ahmedabad and lost the Border Gavaskar Trophy by a respectable margin of 1-2.

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First Published: May 31 2023 | 10:16 PM IST

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