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Where did India Lose the World Cup Final to Australia?

Written By: Vineet Ramakrishnan


Last Updated: November 20, 2023, 08:44 IST

New Delhi, India

India's memorable 10-match winning streak comes to an end in the final. (AP Photo)

India's memorable 10-match winning streak comes to an end in the final. (AP Photo)

Australia played like Australia, while tactically India were found wanting in the final

India going into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final vs Australia as favourites would have been a gross understatement considering the momentum the home team had entering the summit clash. It went to the extent that it did not really matter who was winning the second semi-final in Eden Gardens – be it Australia or South Africa – bring it on was the attitude. India were already crowned champions of the world even before the match started on November 19. Hell, they were crowned champions on November 16, when they got the better of New Zealand in a mega feast at the Wankhede.

Then reality hit home, hit hard.

Also Read: Australia Beat India in World Cup Final to Lift Sixth Title

Australia played like Australia. Put into bat, India started well, with Rohit Sharma’s usual assault, but Australia came back, and inch by inch stifled India and induced mistakes from the home team to bundle them out for 240 – a below-par score. The pitch curator two days ago had said that a total of up to 315 can be defended here. 240 was a far cry from that score.

India did their best and put Australia under pressure with three wickets in the powerplay overs. India should have stifled the Aussies, but Australia did not go into their shell. With Travis Head guiding the chase, Australia inched closer to the Indian target and then eventually cantered home with much to spare.

Despair for the 1,30,000-strong Ahmedabad crowd, the millions more across the country and the world.

But, where did India lose the game? – In the ‘Head’ (pun, very much intended) you would say. But, there were more reasons, a look at them.

KL Rahul Going into a Shell

There is no way to sugar-coat this. Rahul’s 107-ball 66 vigil was one of the main reasons why India could only end up with 240. By no means was this a pitch that you could hit through the line or wait on the backfoot to milk the runs, but then again this was not also a pitch that one had to drop the anchor so deep into the seabed. In the middle phase, for 97 deliveries, no boundaries were hit. After Shreyas Iyer creamed a drive for four off the final over of the first Powerplay, Rahul managed the next one for India only two deliveries into the 27th over.

This is not to say that boundaries have to be hit to move along the scoreboard. Even Kohli failed to hit a boundary. 55 runs were scored during that phase – that’s 16.2 overs. Not bad when you are in a rebuilding phase, but in a final the need of the hour was to be a bit more aggressive, let’s say brave approach. Especially Rahul, because Kohli had to be the anchor here and had to go deep.

Rahul should have counter-attacked. The reason India got off to a flyer was due to Rohit’s brave approach. But what the middle phase did was it allowed Australian bowlers a rhythm and plan to bowl and they did it well, with aplomb. India only lost one wicket during that phase. Kohli at the other end was enterprising and scored 27 runs off 37 balls. Rahul – 28 off 58.

SKY’s Royal Bust

Suryakumar Yadav is a beast in T20I cricket. He has loads of runs in First-Class Cricket and List-A. He is in the team because Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the tournament. He had one job to do – finish well, finish big. He got 4 opportunities to bat this World Cup – 12 vs SL, 22 vs SA, 2* vs Netherlands and 1 vs New Zealand. It was only the SA game he got some real game time in the middle. Let’s not hold it against him. Today though, he came into bat at the fall of Ravindra Jadeja in the 35.5 overs. 14.1 overs for him to bat, set himself up and go berserk. But the trouble was this was not a T20 wicket where you could go after the bowling from ball one. It was a tricky wicket and Australia were bowling well. He ended with 18 off 27 balls – exposed the tailenders to the Australian bowlers and frankly looked completely out of sorts. Yes, let’s not be too harsh on him. But, why not? You are in the World Cup squad for Team India – every opportunity counts, you cannot afford not to cash in on the opportunity. But you did. A royal bust for Suryakuamr Yadav.

In hindsight, India could have gone with a sixth bowling option in Ravichandran Ashwin or Shardul Thakur in Suryakumar Yadav’s place. Was Hardik Pandya missed? You bet he was.

first published:November 19, 2023, 21:51 IST
last updated:November 20, 2023, 08:44 IST