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Nerves? Timid batting in World Cup Final vs Australia costs India the trophy after incredible run

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Nerves? Timid batting in World Cup Final vs Australia costs India the trophy after incredible run


Rohit Sharma had played down talks of India carrying the aura of the dominant Australian sides of the past into the World Cup 2023 final. He stressed the need to be focused on the job at hand on the eve of the big final in Ahmedabad. Not often do teams go into a World Cup final against Australia as ‘favourites’ and India had that privilege after a sensational run until the semi-finals.

WORLD CUP 2023 FINAL: Scorecard | Highlights

It was 1-0 before the big day in Ahmedabad and it looked like only a miracle could stop it from becoming 11-0. And it was indeed a miraculous choke from India who were shockingly timid after having been ruthless with the bat throughout the tournament. Barring Rohit Sharma, who continued from where he left in the semi-final, it seemed as if the rest of the Indian batters were overawed by the sense of the occasion despite 1,30,000 backing them at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Pat Cummins had spoken about the joy of silencing a passionate crowd and Australia, the series winners of ICC trophies, did so once again to lift the ODI World Cup trophy for the 6th time in men’s cricket history.

TIMID IN THE BIG FINAL

Australia were timid in the opening match of their World Cup campaign against India in Chennai, but it was India who failed to step up and carry on their fearless approach when it mattered the most.

Yes, India had lost the 2003 World Cup to a far superior Australian side. Yes, Sourav Ganguly’s call to bowl after winning the toss was questionable. However, the 2023 World Cup final defeat seems to be a bigger heartbreak, considering the invincibility that India had displayed until the big final on Sunday.

The pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium for the final was surprisingly ‘very, very dry’ and Pat Cummins won the toss and opted to field. Rohit Sharma, at the toss, said India would have been happy to bat first. It looked like a win-win for both captains at the toss.

ROHIT DOESN’T DISAPPOINT

Rohit Sharma did not disappoint. He reinvented himself for the World Cup campaign as he became an aggressor at the top. He was an accumulator in the past, a sensational one, having hit 3 double hundreds in his storied career. In the 2019 World Cup, Rohit hit 5 hundreds but it seemed as if he was making a bigger impact by going after the opposition bowlers in the first 10 overs.

Rohit scored 503 runs in the first 10 matches at a strike rate of over 120. No other batter had scored more than 400 runs and with that kind of strike in this campaign. Questions were asked whether Rohit would be able to repeat it in the big-pressure knockout matches and he answered those in style by going after the New Zealand new-ball bowlers in style in the semi-final with a 29-ball 47.

On Sunday too, Rohit took on the Australian fast bowlers, hitting Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood into the stands with the same fearless approach that has served him well. India lost Shubman Gill early but Rohit did not hold back and went after the Australian bowlers.

Australia showed signs that they were ready for the big day by throwing themselves on the field and not giving those easy extra runs. Yet, Rohit’s assault at the top of the order gave India the early momentum in the final.

However, he gave his wicket away to part-time off-spinner Glenn Maxwell in the 10th over. However, it seemed as if Rohit had done his job with a 31-ball 47 in the big final.

THE SLOW KOHLI-RAHUL PARTNERSHIP

Virat Kohli began briskly, hitting three boundaries in a Mitchell Starc over but he went into a shell during his partnership with KL Rahul. Shreyas Iyer getting a beauty from Josh Hazlewood right after Rohit Sharma’s exit did not help India’s cause.

KL Rahul and Virat Kohli dropped gears and never looked fluent in the middle overs even as Australia were operating with their part-time spinners. Pat Cummins was given a free hand to get overs from Adam Zampa and his part-timers as the two batters in the middle played with bit too much caution.

Virat Kohli and KL Rahul added 67 runs in 109 balls and the only boundary came during their partnership, a sweep shot from KL Rahul. Kohli got to his fifty in just 56 balls as he kept the scoreboard moving by taking those ones and twos, but Rahul, who had looked quite fluent in the previous games, was not able to find the gaps at all.

Kohli got out for 54, getting an inside edge in Pat Cummins’s over. It showcased the slowness of the pitch as Kohli was forced into making a rare mistake.

The pitch played quite slowly and the ball was getting softer and scuffed up as Australia’s pacers found reverse swing after the 30-over mark.

However, Rahul’s knock was inexplicable, at least from the outside. It seemed as if he was thinking more about what would happen next despite India playing an extra batter in Suryakumar Yadav.

Rahul’s knock would have helped India had he carried on to get a big one, but he was out for 66 off 107 in the 42nd over after Mitchell Starc got one to leave the right-hander from around the wicket.

Ravindra Jadeja, who has stepped up so many times in the crunch moments so many times in the past, was not able to survive the intense spell from the Australian pacers as he fell for 4 to Josh Hazlewood.

Suryakumar Yadav, who was picked for the finisher’s role, stumbled under pressure as he did not even farm strikw while batting with the tail-enders. The World No. 1 T20I batter managed just 18 off 28 balls in a disappointing effort.

India huffed and puffed to 240 but there was a feeling at the half-way mark that it was not going to be enough. India hit just 4 boundaries in the last 40 overs of their innings.

Yes, India pacers kept them in the game as Japsrit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami gave the early breakthroughs, having Australia at 47 for 3.

However, Travis Head came out with a fearless approach, proving to be the difference between the two sides. Head became only the third Australian batter to hit a hundred in a World Cup final.

He stitched a 192-run partnership with Marnus Labuschagne who hit 58 from 110 balls. Labuschagne had the liscence to play slow, knowing Head was going big at the other end. But in India’s case, the anchor dropped and no one was able to do what Head did.

The wait for the ICC title continues as India were not able to make the perfect 10, a perfect 11.

Published By:

Akshay Ramesh

Published On:

Nov 19, 2023

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