Australia vs India predictions: Labuschagne feeling at home in English conditions
- Only Don Bradman reached 3,000 Test runs in fewer innings than Marnus Labuschagne
- India have won their last four Test series against Australia, two at home and two away
- Recommended bet: Marnus Labuschagne to be Australia Top Batter - 1st Innings
Australia and India have been the dominant teams in the latest two-year World Test Championship cycle and they face off in this week's final at The Oval.
The Aussies are gearing up for the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston later this month but their immediate focus is on defeating India, who have won the last four series between the teams.
Rohit Sharma's side are missing several star players but they hammered England by 157 runs on their last visit to The Oval in 2021 and will be determined to make up for their defeat to New Zealand in the inaugural WTC final two years ago.
Australia vs India (starting Wednesday, 10.30am)
Australia's Josh Hazlewood has been replaced in the WTC final squad by Michael Neser although the fast bowler is expected to recover from a side strain in time for the Ashes. Hazlewood's absence means Scott Boland is likely to play at The Oval.
India are missing injured first-team regulars Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer due to injury. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is also sidelined after being involved in a serious car accident in December so Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat are vying for the wicketkeeper position.
India have won their last four Test series against Australia, two at home and two away.
India beat England at The Oval by 157 runs in 2021 but had won only one of their previous 13 Tests at the venue.
Virat Kohli has a batting average of 33 in Tests in England compared with 60 in India.
Australia have won only three of their last 15 Test matches against India.
Only Don Bradman reached 3,000 Test runs in fewer innings than Marnus Labuschagne's 51.
Australia's Steve Smith has first-innings scores of 138 not out, 143 and 80 in three Test appearances at The Oval.
India have come out on top in their last four Test series against Australia, including two 2-1 victories Down Under, so it will be fascinating to see if they can extend that run on neutral territory at The Oval.
India's injuries are a concern for their backers while the Aussies are virtually at full strength and several of their players have been preparing for the WTC final and the Ashes with stints in the County Championship.
Batter Marnus Labuschagne is one of those who should be acclimatised to British conditions, having scored 64, 65, 170 not out, 42, one and 138 in his last six Championship innings for Glamorgan.
Labuschagne made four half-centuries, as well as 48 at The Oval, in seven innings against England in the 2019 Ashes and has developed into one of the world's most consistent Test runscorers since then.
He has a respectable Test average of 47 against India and should be backed to continue his fine pre-Ashes form by top-scoring in Australia's first innings.