Rohit Sharma

Captain Rohit Sharma (left) inspects the pitch ahead of the ICC World Cup 2023’s final match between India and Australia, at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, Saturday, November 18. Photo: PTI

WC final pitch preparation backfired on India, says Ricky Ponting

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Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting on Sunday (November 19) said India’s pitch preparation for the ICC World Cup 2023 final backfired on the Rohit Sharma-led team.

In the final of the World Cup 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Australia defeated India by six wickets for a record-extending sixth title. Travis Head was the batting hero with a superb 137.

Head and Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) added 192 runs for the fourth wicket, turning the match towards Australia after they were in trouble at 47/3.

On a slow pitch, Australian captain Pat Cummins surprised everyone by opting to bowl first after winning the toss. Rohit, at the toss, said he would have batted first.

After a blazing start – 80/2 in the first Powerplay of 10 overs, India were stifled by good bowling by the Australians and restricted them to 240 all out in 50 overs.

Between overs 11 and 50, India managed only four boundaries. The team, playing in front of over 1 lakh spectators, posted a below par total despite half-centuries from Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.

After the final, World Cup winning-captain Ponting felt India’s choice of pitch for the final backfired on them.

“It was very, very sub-continental conditions today. A wicket preparation that has probably ended up backfiring on India to be totally fair,” Ponting said on commentary.

Cummins said he thought the 22-yard strip was “little slower”.

“It was a little slower than I thought,” he said. “It didn’t particularly spin as much as we thought either but I thought everyone adjusted well and bowled some tight lines.”

Former England captain Nasser Hussain opined that the dry wicket in Ahmedabad helped Australia.

“India are still a great side - but the pitch brought Australia into it,” Hussain said on Sky Sports. “India’s four bowlers not being able to bat that well came back to haunt them. That’s why Rahul and Kohli couldn’t go hard. They were worried about Shami at number 8.”

Another ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan too echoed Hussain’s views.

“Strategically they (Australia) are a very clever team,” Vaughan said during the World Cup final commentary, according to a report on Fox Sports.

“They’ve clearly got a very clever thinktank. I don’t think they are a 320 side; they are a 280 side and preparing a pitch like this gave Australia a chance. They did exactly what Pat Cummins said they would, they’ve silenced the crowd. They’ve done it in great fashion. I don’t know anyone who thought the game would be done in 43 overs with Australia coasting to the target.”

The pitch prepared for the World Cup 2023 final was a used one, on which India had played Pakistan on October 14.

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