Australia skipper Pat Cummins said, would draw on their experience of having played and won a World Cup final going into Sunday’s joust with India. “A few of us have played such a game before and there are others who have played a World T20 final (in 2021). The 2015 World Cup was a career highlight, so to be out there in a final in India, can’t wait,” he told the official broadcasters.
Later, at the post-match press conference, Mitchell Starc was asked what would make the difference in the final. “It will probably be about both pressure and skill,” said Starc who finished with 3/34 after he and Josh Hazelwood operated brilliantly in tandem in the power play. “Both teams know what is to play such games. We have met recently in the final of the World Test Championship. It will be a big occasion, a great spectacle and, as a changing room, we are looking forward.”
The one person who doesn’t really care is Rob Walter. “To be honest, there is a 1% chance I would be watching. To be even more brutally honest, I don’t care (who wins). But it is great for the home team to win the World Cup and over the past eight weeks we have seen the kind of support there is for the India team. And they have been the best side in the competition,” said the South Africa coach at the pree conference.
While it was understandable that Australia would be upbeat going into their eighth World Cup final. But what may have come as a surprise was how South Africa reacted to yet another World Cup semi-final defeat. This wasn’t anything close to players collapsing on the pitch or sitting on their haunches staring down. Instead, there were hugs and smiles.
” Our character came through. It was a dog fight,” skipper Temba Bavuma told official broadcasters after congratulating Australia and accepting that they were “outstanding for a large part of the game and thoroughly deserved victory.” Bavuma said Quinton de Kock, whose ODI career ended with this game, would have wanted the game to have ended on a different note “but he’ll remember the fight we showed as a team. We’ve enjoyed playing with him, in South Africa he will go down as a legend of the game.”
To that Walter added: “If you think about the cricket we played over the past eight weeks, it was memorable. And the more players have such experiences the more they get excited about their cricket. I think we surprised some people in this room and around the world. We have had world records, dominated teams and different people have put their hands up at different times. Guys are gutted now but they know they have left everything out there.”
Walters said Kagiso Rabada was unavailable to bowl because of a “bruised heel”. That is why he couldn’t be 100%. “But that also meant that Aiden (Markram) could be used and he was outstanding. I don’t think that (Rabada bowling only six overs) was a defining moment.”
The way the pitch behave at the start was. “The first 12 overs, batting was a challenge. When the ball is coming at you so steep and there is lateral movement and there are two quality bowlers who are getting some assistance, your options are limited,” said Walter.
Starc said he knew the wicket would spin based on their experience on the training pitches here over the past few days. “But I was surprised that it seamed around.” That made it tough to bat in the first 10 overs. “If you saw Joshy’s (Hazelwood) pitch map, it would be more like Test match bowling. We knew South Africa are pretty strong at the backend and wanted (David) Miller and (Heinrich) Klassen to be out there early and not at the end. Joshy built pressure with a lot of dot balls and that meant they could not play with freedom. Add to that the way we fielded. David Warner is 37 and look how he moved.” That and the start Travis Head and Warner gave them proved crucial, said Starc. It allowed Australia to not be affected by run rate, he said.
Bavuma accepted that South Africa lost the game in the first 10 overs with bat and ball. Their bowlers were ruthless exploiting every bit of the assistance they got from favourable conditions. And I think we should have bowled better at the start.”