In a crucial development, as the group stage of IPL 2023 concluded on Sunday, a group of seven Indian cricketers, including the talismanic batter Virat Kohli, ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, are set to leave for England on Tuesday. Their departure marks the commencement of preparations for the highly anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia, scheduled to take place from June 7 to 11 at The Oval in London.
According to a report in Sportstar, a total of eleven cricketers, including seven squad members, one reserve player, and three support bowlers, along with the support staff, will embark on their journey to England in the early hours of Tuesday. The aforementioned trio of Kohli, Ashwin, and Siraj will be joined by Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, and Jaydev Unadkat, who will also be part of the contingent.
The report further revealed that both Unadkat and Umesh, who were nursing shoulder and hamstring injuries during IPL 2023, have been declared fit by experts at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, paving their way to join the team for the crucial WTC final.
Notably, all the mentioned cricketers, with the exception of Unadkat, represent the six franchises whose Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign concluded during the league stage. Unadkat, who sustained an injury during nets, had been replaced by the Lucknow Super Giants.
Mukesh Kumar, a promising pacer and one of the reserves, who played for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2023 alongside Axar Patel, will also be part of the first batch traveling to England. Head coach Rahul Dravid will lead the preparation phase, as captain Rohit Sharma will be leading Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2023 playoffs.
The report also disclosed the inclusion of three more pacers, namely Aniket Choudhary, Akash Deep, and Yarra Prithviraj, who have been selected as net bowlers by the national selection panel in consultation with the team management. Cheteshwar Pujara, who is currently participating in the County Championship, is expected to join the preparations later this week.
While Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Mohammad Shami, K.S. Bharat, and Ajinkya Rahane are engaged in the IPL 2023 playoffs, the remaining members of the 15-member squad, along with reserves Suryakumar Yadav and Ruturaj Gaikwad, are scheduled to depart for London on May 29, the night following the IPL final to be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on May 28.
India, having finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship final in 2021 after an eight-wicket defeat against New Zealand, are determined to secure a major ICC men's title, ending a decade-long drought. The upcoming clash against Australia presents a golden opportunity for the Indian team to etch their name in history and lift the prestigious WTC trophy.