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"Cannot compare IPL and Tests...": Former Indian cricketer Venugopal Rao on Rohit Sharma's form

Former Indian cricketer Venugopal Rao said that India and Australia are on an equal level when it comes to winning the ICC World Test Championship final, which will be held at The Oval from June 7 onwards.

Speaking to ANI, Venugopal talked about the WTC final, the Indian bowling attack, and skipper Rohit Sharma's form among many other things.

"Equal chances. We also have a great bowling attack like Australia. Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami are quality bowlers. The last time when they went to England, England players struggled against them. We deliver in every condition as far as fast bowling is concerned. We have the best fast bowling attack in the world. We are coming after a lot of T20 cricket. I think our players are professional and will adapt to the conditions. Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill are in a good state of mind, Rohit also scored a century last time he was in England," Venugopal told ANI.

The former cricketer does not think that skipper Rohit Sharma's lean run in IPL is a matter of concern for Team India.

"You cannot compare the IPL with the World Test Championship final. When you play for your country, you have a different energy. Rohit will do well, because, before IPL, he got a century on turning tracks. We tend to forget it. He will come good in the WTC final," said Venugopal.

Rohit is having a disappointing IPL season so far. He has scored just 313 runs in 14 matches at an average of 22.36 and a strike rate of 134.33. This also includes two half-centuries and six single-digit scores.

However, he has had a great 2023 so far in international cricket. In 12 matches, he has scored 613 runs at an average of 43.78 and a strike rate of over 80. He has two centuries and two fifties this year, with best score of 120.

The former cricketer also said that veteran middle-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara will be in a great state of mind ahead of the big match because of the match practice he has received in England as a part of the County Championship campaign with Sussex.

"The information that he will provide to players about the English conditions will be useful," added Venugopal.

Pujara is currently the highest run-scorer in Division Two of the Championship, having scored 545 runs in eight innings at an average of above 68, with three centuries and a fifty. His best score is 151 across five matches.

Pujara was in fine form for Sussex last year as well. In eight matches last year in the Championship, he scored 1,094 runs at an average of 109.40. He scored five half-centuries last year, with the best score of 231.

He was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the division behind Wayne Madsen (1,273 for Derbyshire), Haseeb Hameed (1,235 for Nottinghamshire) and Sam Northeast (1,189 for Glamorgan).

Pujara also performed really well in the One-Day Cup last year. In nine matches, he scored 624 runs at an average of 89.14 and a strike rate of 111.62. He scored three centuries and two half-centuries and the best score of 174. He led his side to the semi-final of the tournament as a skipper.

The veteran also backed Ajinkya Rahane's return to the national side, saying that he is an experienced player with sound technique and a great overseas record.

Rahane last featured in Tests for India in January 2022 and has since been out of favour in the red-ball setup. Before being dropped, Rahane had a horrendous 2021 where he scored just 479 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 20.82. His last Test century came at the MCG in the memorable Border-Gavaskar series of 2020/21 where he captained India's comeback after the dismal 36 all out.

Injury to Shreyas Iyer meant that there was a void to be filled in the middle order and India has backed his experience for the one-off Ultimate Test.

His performances in the Indian Premier League so far as well as his domestic showings have paved the way for a comeback into the side. Playing for Chennai Super Kings, Rahane has been handed a new lease of life, scoring 282 runs in nine innings at a stunning strike rate of 169.87. He has scored two half-centuries for the side so far.

Prior to the IPL, he went back to the drawing board in Ranji Trophy and returned 634 runs in seven matches for Mumbai, which included two centuries.

Venugopal Rao is an expert on Star Sports Telugu for the on-going IPL 2023. WTC will be LIVE, exclusively on Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar.

The Indian squad for WTC final:

India's squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Mukesh Kumar and Suryakumar Yadav have been named as stand-by players for the high-stakes match. (ANI)