Eight weeks of some wonderful cricket came to a tame end, with Australia again showing their determination and top-class fielding to ruin India’s hopes of winning a third World Cup title. Travis Head’s superlative turning and running back catch dashed India’s hopes of getting a 300-plus score. That catch dismissed Rohit Sharma, who once again stormed his way to another quickfire 40-plus. That wicket fell in the final over of the first PowerPlay where there are only two fielders allowed outside the 30-metre circle. He had already hit a six and a four in the over and was obviously trying to capitalise on the few deliveries left before the PowerPlay finished. Was he being too greedy? Could he not have curbed himself since Shubman Gill had already been dismissed?
The fifth bowler’s quota for Australia was always a bit of a lottery, and this time, it worked as it not only got the crucial wicket of the Indian captain but also made the other India batters play the non-regular bowlers even more carefully, and thereby lose out on perhaps 30 runs at least. Whether those runs would have made the difference is debatable.
That said, the Australians fully deserved their win, for they came back to claim their sixth World Cup trophy after a stuttering start in the tournament. They were superbly led in the finals, with Pat Cummins taking a bold decision to field first despite winning the toss. The Australians didn’t give anything away on the field, and that ‘Head catch’ typified the Aussie attitude that day. Head then batted with a great mix of watchfulness and calculated assault to take Australia home in the company of the calm, unruffled Marnus Labuschagne.
There will be plenty of post-mortems about the final, but every genuine Indian cricket lover should be very proud of this Indian team. To win 10 successive matches is something very few teams have achieved. Those wins were also the most convincing and comprehensive victories, which is why the expectations were so high for the finals.
Whatever the perennial carpers might say, this was a spectacular tournament, and the crowds had a great time. The BCCI, the favourite whipping boy of the media of the ‘old powers’, got its fair share of stick. Most of it was silly, like the criticism of stadiums not being totally full, forgetting that a stadium of 80,000 or more with 40,000 people is more than any stadium in their country. Also, for every game the home team played, the grounds were packed to capacity, with not a seat available. So, that was a silly argument.
Then, the accusation of BCCI interference in the selection of the pitches for India matches again was pretty irrelevant, as the ICC pitch consultant was around, and only after the ICC gave its approval was the match played on the pitch. Nothing in the playing conditions say that for the knockout games, a fresh pitch had to be used, so just because India’s matches were played on previously used pitches didn’t mean there was any hanky-panky. That was proven conclusively in the semifinals, where the allegation of a dry pitch to suit the Indian spinners was made, but more than 725 runs were scored, and a fast bowler took seven wickets for India.
Sadly, developed countries feel that only they should get world events, and developing countries should just be happy to come visit them. India has shown with this World Cup that they can organise a top event. Never mind the perennial moaners.
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