Geoff Lemon reported that Pat Cummins made the correct decisions as India’s hopes for winning the World Cup came to an end.
Choices. Choose wisely and you will be seen as a visionary. Make poor choices and you will be labeled as foolish, extravagant, or useless – the list of insults goes on and on. Hindsight will reveal the correct decisions, but you should have been more aware.
When Pat Cummins won the coin toss, Australian fans would have been thrilled. However, when he decided to bowl shortly after, many of them may have questioned his decision and wondered if he had made a mistake or overthought his strategy.
However, what was the idea behind this decision? Giving India the home field advantage, along with the strong performance of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who are both playing exceptionally well in the World Cup, and allowing them to bat first on their own turf.
Request that they ignite their home supporters with a strong scoring performance, revel in accomplishments, and apply pressure with their speedy bowlers in the night session. Are you prepared to face this team, who has only won their last three chase matches thanks to a miraculous performance by Glenn Maxwell, a discouraged Bangladesh, and a slow climb to a low score against South Africa?
It is possible that our initial thoughts were accurate. It is possible that it was not the most strategic decision. It is also possible that if Australia had batted first, they could have achieved a score of 300 and successfully defended it. However, ultimately Cummins was proven correct as he effectively guided his team to success.
Starc’s first wicket of Gill was useful, but ultimately insignificant as it only led to the pairing of Sharma and Kohli. Sharma is known for his ability to hit the ball for six. Kohli was impressed by this and proceeded to hit several fours. However, Maxwell’s decision to use his off-spin during the powerplay, a tactic commonly employed throughout the tournament, proved costly as Sharma fell victim to it while attempting another big shot.
Cummins made a significant impact twice. First, he forced Shreyas Iyer to make Kohli and KL Rahul more careful, causing them to slow down their scoring. Then, in the 29th over, he made Kohli play onto his stumps, preventing him from reaching another hundred and ending his innings at fifty. Despite holding the record for most runs in a single World Cup, Kohli’s total was cut short. Cummins utilized his bowlers effectively, and Josh Inglis set a new record with five catches in a World Cup final. As a result, India struggled to reach a total of 240.
It was certainly a challenging situation. India had 20 overs to bowl with spin on a slow and rough surface. Ravindra Jadeja has proven to be successful against Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, while Kuldeep Yadav’s left-arm wrist spin has been effective against Maxwell. Australia needed to score a large number of runs from their top three players, but despite a fast pace, they lost David Warner and Mitchell Marsh early on.
However, it ultimately comes down to making decisions. One of the most crucial decisions, a turning point for numerous reasons, was the selection of the squad. Despite a hand injury that caused him to miss half of the tournament, Travis Head was chosen. This decision also meant that Ashton Agar, who had a potentially healed calf problem, was not selected. It was determined that one injury was the maximum allowed. As a result, Labuschagne was chosen for the final spot instead of the all-rounder Agar.
They were the duo who led Australia to victory. Prior to that, it was Head who made a remarkable catch while moving backwards to dismiss Sharma, showcasing a skill that was more impressive in person than on TV.
After Smith was dismissed lbw, the team had lost three wickets and had 47 runs on the scoreboard. The atmosphere in the stadium indicated that India was dominating the game. The crowd of over 92,000 people cheered for their team, showing their support for this tournament, title, and world. If you were among the spectators outside, you could feel the vibrations in your chest from the loud roars. In a truly astonishing way, it was an indescribable experience.
However, there was one issue. Travis Head is incomparable. He plays extraordinary innings and accomplishes seemingly impossible feats. Labuschagne laid the foundation with a solid performance, and Head used it to create a masterpiece. Initially, he had only 10 runs from 23 balls, a score that was uncharacteristic of him. But then he paused, chewed his gum, and started again. He took on Mohammed Shami, who was considered India’s top bowler of the tournament, and skillfully hit a dab for four and a drive for another four. Later on, he faced Yadav and confidently executed a slog sweep for six, even when it seemed like India had the upper hand in the game.
They continued to succeed: The captain excelled with a score of one hundred, just as he did when defeating India in the final of the World Test Championship; Labuschagne provided support, an unlikely hero who was not initially part of the warm-up squad, tournament squad, or starting lineup, but ended up playing in all three.
As the game progressed, and the number of runs left to be scored decreased from challenging to achievable to likely to a mere formality, the noise in the stadium gradually diminished from a roar to a hushed murmur, resembling a quiet weekday afternoon at a local cricket field with too many spectators to create such a subdued atmosphere. By the time Australia emerged as the victors, half of the crowd had already left. It was a pity – they missed witnessing the most unexpected victory in the World Cup.