For 10 straight matches, India were an invincible force, whether it was with the batting or with the bowling. A third World Cup title seemed a certainty as most believed. But in the ultimate match, India stumbled. Most believed it was down to Australia being Australia, the team made for big matches and big occasions, the most dominant force ever in World Cup history. There have been umpteen analysis over the last two days pertaining to India’s six-wicket loss, but you seldom can find a flaw in a team that won all their 10 previous games in the tournament which such supremacy, whether defending to chasing a score.
One of the big factors that led to Australia’s win on Sunday boiled down to the very first moment in the game, even more the first ball was delivered – toss. Pat Cummins admitted that he was torn between the two decisions after his first look at the pitch but eventually opted to bowl first. And it seemed the Aussies were at home as they bowled out India for just 240 runs on the slow and dry Ahmedabad track.
Reportedly, it was India who opted for a slow wicket at the Narendra Modi Stadium for the big final, and former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh, speaking to India Today, was left shocked at the decision which aided the Aussies. He felt that had the track been on the quicker side, India would have made a difference in the game with the in-form batting line-up rising to the occasion.
“I think it was the kind of pitch which was on the slower side. It was drier than the usual pitch. You know, I would have liked to see a pitch where a lot of scores like 300 plus been scored. That sort of pitch would have India more than this kind of pitch where, you know, you bring your opposition in the game.”
“You know where your batters were in such great form. They looked really good throughout the tournament, and they were fantastic and very, very proud of them. The way they play their cricket. I think, a slightly better pitch would help them to perform better than what happened,” said Harbhajan.
This was the same Ahmedabad track where IPL franchise Gujarat Titans scored more than 200 runs on five occasions in the last season which included 233 runs in the playoff and 214 in the final.
When asked if India would have won the World Cup had not tinkered with the pitch, Harbhajan agreed saying, “I believe India was the superior side. You ask anyone. Yesterday before the game, I spoke to a couple of my Aussie friends who I played with in my era. And all of them, they said, India is just top side, and it will be India all the way, But, of course, the Australian team they came out with the plan, they executed well, and they played fantastic cricket. And, of course, if the wicket was on slightly on a better side, one with the ball coming nicely onto the bat, Uh, you know, I think, we would have enjoyed more.”