Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Last Update : 01:40 PM IST

  Opinion   Edit  20 Nov 2023  AA Edit | Team India falls short of the summit, again

AA Edit | Team India falls short of the summit, again

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Nov 21, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 21, 2023, 12:05 am IST

India may have been the best team of the championship, but the Australians were the better team on the day that counted the most.

India's head coach Rahul Dravid, skipper Rohit Sharma and other players after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 finals, at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Australia won the match to lift the trophy. (PTI Photo/Gurinder Osan)
 India's head coach Rahul Dravid, skipper Rohit Sharma and other players after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 finals, at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Australia won the match to lift the trophy. (PTI Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Team India’s dream run in cricket’s ODI World Cup was halted by a tactically superior Australian team led capably by a self-effacing captain. It was a second defeat for India at the hands of Pat Cummins after the World Test Championship final last summer, much to the chagrin of a 1.4 billion Indians whose hopes had been roused to incredible heights in the wake of a 10-match winning streak.

There was sympathy more than censure and an acceptance of reality rather than more cursing at a decade-old jinx that seems to stop Team India from laying its hands on a major ICC event trophy. There was admiration for the wizards of Australian cricket who won a sixth World Cup, this time in an alien atmosphere in front of close to one lakh spectators at the biggest stage in cricket’s largest venue.

Choosing to do it the hard way in inviting India to bat, much against expert opinion of putting a total on the scoreboard in a cup final, the Australians made light of a midsized target thanks to a wonderfully attacking innings from Travis Head. The big game batter blunted the Indian team’s vaunted seam attack by taking the fight to them despite the breakthroughs Bumrah and Shami had achieved earlier.

The near perfect run to the final, including holding off the enthusiastic New Zealanders in the semi-final, seemed set to continue as a selfless skipper in Rohit Sharma stayed on his chosen attacking path. The athletic catch that Head took running back from point was a definitive turning point in the match even as it symbolised the Australians giving more than 100 per cent in the finals they have featured in, boasting a success rate of 75 per cent with six 6 wins in 8 appearances in an unpredictable game of fluctuating fortunes.

Seemingly on trial eternally as a rare fast bowler captain, Cummins came back on to bowl the decisive rising back-of-length ball that a tentative Virat Kohli, batting star of the World Cup with eight knocks above 50 in gathering a record 765 runs, dabbed into his stumps. The silence in the stands was an eerily eloquent testimony to where the match stood then as a contest with the Australians having regrouped after Rohit Sharma’s offensive.

India’s batting, which had not been setting the stands on fire in Kohli’s long, single boundary hit stand with K.L. Rahul, became even more timid, towards relieving which Suryakumar Yadav could only offer comical footwork that did nothing to bring back the pointed aggression which was the hallmark of India’s dominant exhibition of strokes in the league and the semi-final.

In sharp contrast came Head’s amazing knock of sheer enterprise, of powerful placements to the offside and extravagant attack to the onside and putting paid to the spinners’ best laid plans even as Marnus Labuschagne played the defensive foil to perfection to deny a break while the target was being whittled down.

India may have been the best team of the championship, but the Australians were the better team on the day that counted the most.  Cummins’ bowling changes worked as he shuffled his pack constantly in the middle overs. His field placements, designed precisely to stop each Indian batter, were as analytically brilliant as the effort his men put in to deny boundary hits. In short, Australia served a lesson to India on how to play a Cup final game.

Tags: icc world cup, indian team, india vs australia