WC final key points: Australia outbat, outbowl, outfield India
Ahmedabad, Nov 19 (PTI) Where did India lose the World Cup final against Australia? Well, they lost the battle on all fronts.
Australian bowlers and fielders produced wonderful efforts and Travis Head registered a hundred for ages as Pat Cummins' side broke a billion Indian hearts to win their sixth World Cup here on Sunday.
Here's a closer look at each of those aspects that fired the Aussies to a record triumph.
1. Toss When Cummins chose to bowl after winning the toss, there was a quiet disbelief. India could first use a pitch that could remain slow, and pile up a big total to put the Aussies under pressure.
But obviously Cummins had seen something we hadn't. Perhaps, he made a Holmes-que study of the surface after clicking pictures of it the previous day.
Whatever that is, the Aussie bowlers, who found some immaculate length here, responded to his call with a Herculean effort to restrict the home side to a well below par total that wasn't enough to challenge a resolute batting line-up – dew or no dew.
============= 2. India's Head-ache The left-handed Head teamed up with Marnus Labuschagne when Australia were in a spot of bother, having lost three wickets under 50 runs. The target of 241 was not a huge one, but this Indian bowling carried the skillsets to exploit even the minutest of chances.
But Head did not give them even a creek using his twinkling feet and fast hands, while making 192 runs for the fourth-wicket with Labuschagne.
His hundred was the second against India in an ICC event final, after he cracked a 163 against them in the WTC final earlier this June.
Head was everything Indian batters weren't in the middle-overs. The South Australian was forceful against spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who were expected to lead India's riposte. He smashed them around using those pick-up shots over mid-on.
In fact, Head smoked 15 fours, two more than the whole Indian team managed in the match. Indian bowlers were just headless against him.
================== 3. Australia manic on the field The Antipodeans have always been a very good fielding side, and they raised the bar one notch up in the summit clash, saving, possibly, 40 runs. Head started that sequence.
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma started the innings in smoking style, and dismantled pacer Josh Hazlewood with a couple of sixes.
But his effort to hoist Glenn Maxwell over the circle resulted in a miscued loft, and Head ran a good few yards backwards to pouch a brilliant catch. The Aussies were outstanding in the outfield too, particularly David Warner who was exceptional near the ropes, throwing himself around to stop the shots.
Cummins too was switched on as captain, and his field placements were spot on. When Virat Kohli and KL Rahul were engaged in repair service during their fourth-wicket alliance, Cummins muffled the usually free-flowing duo with clever positioning of his personnel.
Cummins opened the cover region with a sweeper in place and closed ranks around the square-leg and mid-on areas. It was a clear ploy to force the Indian batters to take more risks to make quick runs, or contend with those workman-like singles to covers and leg-side, leaving them in two minds.
====================== 3. Cummins & Co. fire on slow pitch Coming to the title clash, Cummins' run-rate was above six and he had taken 13 wickets from 10 matches, modest numbers for a premier fast bowler. But the New South Welshman embossed his signature on the final.
Shreyas Iyer came to the final riding on back-to-back centuries, and Kohli has been nothing short of imperious in the marquee event. The Aussies needed to silence them and Cummins did that job.
It's not just those two high-value wickets, but Cummins kept his run-rate below four and the Indian batsmen could not score even a single boundary off him in the entire innings. Just unbelievable in a high-pressure match! But then he had support of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood too as they took seven wickets among them on a pitch that had very little for the pacers, using variations like slow bouncers and cutters.
===================== 4. Aussies have India in tail-'spin' Australian spinners smother Indian batsmen. Sounds funny? No, it happened in Motera. Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head, is not your most conniving spin troika but together they gave away only 83 runs in 18 overs in the middle passage, draining Indian batsmen of boundaries.
Kohli and Rahul could manage only one four during their 97-ball association. India also suffered another barren spell between 41st and 50th overs, scoring just two fours through Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. PTI