That cricket It’s a cruel game told through the ages and it’s so true. The Indian team experienced this on Sunday. Having dominated the entire tournament, they were outplayed and Australia didn’t fight them when it mattered most. I said privately that Pat Cummins is not a great captain. I take that back, I eat my words on this.
Pat Cummins behind that smiling face is a shrewd cricketer’s head. It was his decision to bowl first that won the match for Australia. It’s as simple as that. This will probably go down as one of the smartest moves by a captain ever. It didn’t come across as a great move when India started to bat as Rohit Sharma joined the Aussies and continued with the courageous approach we all love.
Gill was defeated early
Shubman Gill got out early, but the captain and Virat Kohli forged a partnership before Rohit’s fierce shot ran past Travis Head’s running back and dived to complete one of the best catches I’ve seen. Cummins then caught Shreyas Iyer, and India went into sleep mode for 30 overs. True, the wicket was not great to bat on, but India could have scored 40 to 50 runs more in these innings.
Suryakumar Yadav after being dismissed for 18 on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
The Australians moved superbly and Adam Zampa was particularly good. The ball was scuffed up and reverse swing was available which Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood made excellent use of. Batting was tough and this attack made it exponentially more difficult. But the Australian pitching was even better! From the second ball of India’s innings, when Head miraculously stopped his boundary, the Aussies were on fire. David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Head, Cummins—they were all gold standard.
Defending 240, India started nervously. Surprisingly, they gave the new ball to Mohammed Shami, which he did well at first, but the occasion got the best of Shami. He was running hard, trying to take a wicket from every ball, and this affected his usual style. He had a great tournament though. Overall, there was a sense of nervous desperation from India from the start which was not good enough. Low totals are always hard to defend and comfort is key.
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Australia looked too nervous in front of a full Narendra Modi stadium and there was a slam bang start that left Warner and Mitchell Marsh swatting a few, only to be caught. Steven Smith did not review his dismissal and Australia were 47 for 3. It certainly looked like it was India’s night, but Head innings of the tournament, starting aggressively but then settling down quickly in an anchor role. Together with Labuschagne, he took the pressure and patiently gambled for the dew to form and the pitch to become easier. The head was published and the stand out point was the way he was maneuvering the ball, the case, the ebb and flow of a trivial chase. A master class in pursuit, we saw.
India’s surprise tactics
A few things surprised me. Initially, Ravindra Jadeja was not bowling the top of the order, especially after seeing how Keshav Maharaj managed to get him out in the semi-final at Kolkata. He only went over the wicket when the game was slipping away. This was something that the bowling coach and analyst should have picked up immediately or planned in advance. Secondly, India did not attack enough. Jadeja went to the Head with a long on and got at least 10 to 15 runs comfortably. Thirdly, Shami could have come off after a few kicks at the start and Mohammed Siraj should have been brought into the game earlier. When he came forward, he also looked nervous and not at his best.
Australia played superbly and congratulations to them. India had an incredible tournament and one has to ask why the finals are not best-of-three affairs to provide a fairer format.
Former India and Mumbai batsman Jatin Paranjape is also a former national selector. He tweets @jats72
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