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Second ICC World Test Championship final to be played from June 7-11 at The Oval

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Dubai, Feb 8 (IANS) The International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed on Wednesday that the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship Final will be played between June 7-11, 2023, at The Oval in London, England.

The Oval has hosted over 100 Test matches in its rich history, and in June will welcome the top two Test sides in the ICC World Test Championship standings, which will compete for the ICC World Test Championship Mace following two years of hard-fought competition.

The ICC World Test Championship final is the pinnacle event in the Test calendar and is a week-long celebration of the longest format of the game. Termed as the "Ultimate Test" by the ICC, the final is the culmination of two years of intense competition in the cycle spanning 61 Test matches over 24 series played till date.

"Leading Team India out onto the field of play at the World Test Championship Final would be special. We have grown and developed as a team during this competition and to be in with a chance of lifting the Mace at the Oval in June, we know we first need to overcome a tough Australia side."

"There have been so many dramatic moments in Test cricket lately, and there are undoubtedly more to come. I am excited by the prospect of booking our place at the Final and hopefully creating history later in the year," said India captain Rohit Sharma.

Australia currently top the standings, with India in hot pursuit in second place, and both teams go head-to-head across a four-Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy from February 9 with a place for the final at The Oval, and the coveted ICC World Test Championship Mace, firmly in their sights.

"The prospect of playing in the World Test Championship Final has been a big motivator for us over the last couple of years, more so now having missed out on over rates last time. To play at a neutral venue like The Oval adds another element for both sides who make the Final."

"It's exciting and has been a goal of ours for a while now. We are confident we can secure a place while here in India after a really strong 12 months. The Final would be a great reward for the players and staff who have done so well," added Australia captain Pat Cummins.

While six teams in total stand a chance of qualification, among the frontrunners to challenge Australia and India are Sri Lanka, who sit third in the standings and South Africa in fourth, who take on reigning WTC champions New Zealand and the West Indies respectively over two two-Test series during February and March.

"Sri Lanka still has a good chance of making it to the World Test Championship Final. We have done well to be among the top contenders, and if we can complete a good Test series on the upcoming New Zealand tour, our chances of making it to the Final will look like a greater possibility."

"We are aware of the opportunity, as well as the challenges we will face in capturing this wonderful opportunity to play in the WTC Final. This competition is really good for red-ball cricket, as it ensures that every game is played at the highest level of intensity, and the teams, whether they qualify to play the Final or not, will compete to end the ongoing cycle well," said Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

While the two competing nations may not yet be known, there are a host of significant fixtures due to play out in the coming weeks to determine the finalists, and excitement is building ahead of June's clash.

"While we may have an outside chance of qualification for the World Test Championship Final, there's no greater encouragement than the thought of playing for silverware in such a historic format at such a historic ground."

"We are hungry for success in this format, and are focused on the challenge ahead with the West Indies Test series around the corner. With so much to play for, we would love to add some more drama to an already exciting competition and qualify for the Final in June," stated South Africa skipper Dean Elgar.

Remaining ICC World Test Championship Fixtures

India v Australia (1st Test) - Nagpur, India, February 9-13

India v Australia (2nd Test) - New Delhi, India, February 17-21

South Africa v West Indies (1st Test) - Centurion, South Africa, February 28-March 4

India v Australia (3rd Test) - Dharamsala, India, March 1-5

South Africa v West Indies (2nd Test) - Johannesburg, South Africa, March 8-12

New Zealand v Sri Lanka (1st Test) - Christchurch, New Zealand, March 9-13

India v Australia (4th Test) - Ahmedabad, India, March 9-13

New Zealand v Sri Lanka (2nd Test) - Wellington, New Zealand, March 17-21

--IANS

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