In a thrilling encounter of Test cricket, Australia emerged victorious, becoming the first nation to clinch all major ICC titles. The final of the World Test Championship (WTC) showcased a captivating battle where all three outcomes remained possible until the final day. With India requiring 280 runs to win with seven wickets in hand, the stakes were high. However, Australia showcased their exceptional skills and composure, dismantling India’s hopes before the lunch break.
India entered the final with aspirations of a triumphant performance. Unfortunately, their pursuit of an ICC trophy endured for another decade as they fell short. Let’s delve into three significant factors that contributed to India’s defeat in the final
Examining India’s Loss in the 2023 WTC Final: Impact of Team Selection
The team selection played a significant role in India’s defeat in the 2023 WTC Final. Here’s a closer look at one key reason behind their loss: R Ashwin’s exclusion.
- Absence of R Ashwin’s Expertise: The decision to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin, a modern-day Test great, proved to be detrimental for India. With the inclusion of four pacers, India compromised on the services of Ashwin, an exceptional spinner. As the match progressed, Steve Smith’s pre-match assessment proved accurate, as spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Nathan Lyon extracted significant turn and bounce on days four and five. Ashwin’s proficiency in exploiting such conditions and his ability to trouble left-handed batsmen could have made a crucial difference in the game.
Ashwin’s Track Record: Ashwin’s credentials as the top-ranked bowler, especially against left-handed batsmen, cannot be overlooked. He boasts an impressive record of 240 wickets at an average of just 19 against left-handers. Additionally, his tally of 114 Test wickets against Australia is his highest against any nation. This suggests that Ashwin’s presence could have posed a substantial threat to Australia’s left-handed batters, including David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, and Alex Carey.
Control and Wicket-taking Threat: In the critical moments of the match, Australia’s left-handed batsmen, Head and Carey, delivered crucial innings that propelled their team forward. On a dry pitch under hot conditions, Ashwin’s ability to combine control with a potent wicket-taking threat could have provided India with a greater chance of success. His presence could have potentially shifted the momentum in India’s favor and posed challenges for the Australian batsmen.
In hindsight, the exclusion of R Ashwin from the playing XI can be seen as a missed opportunity for India. His skills, experience, and favorable matchup against left-handed batsmen, along with his overall record against Australia, could have significantly impacted the outcome of the match. However, team selections are made based on various factors, strategies, and conditions, and it’s important to analyze and learn from these decisions for future encounters.
India’s First Day Performance in the 2023 WTC Final: Missed Opportunities and Australian Resilience
India’s performance on the first day of the 2023 WTC Final set the tone for the match, but it didn’t quite go as planned. Let’s delve into the key aspects of India’s display:
- Missed Opportunities: India started the match on a positive note, with Usman Khawaja’s early dismissal providing an encouraging start. The conditions favored the pace bowlers, with movement in the air and off the pitch. However, despite beating the Australian batsmen on several occasions, India couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities to take more wickets. Mohammed Shami bowled a touch short, while Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur leaked runs, allowing Australia to weather the initial storm.
- Australian Resilience: As the day progressed, Travis Head’s counterattacking innings put pressure on the Indian bowlers. Steve Smith also found his rhythm after a tentative start. Australia’s batsmen showcased resilience and determination, capitalizing on India’s inability to maintain control. The momentum gradually shifted in favor of Australia, leading to a formidable first-day total of 327 runs and a challenging first-innings total of 469.
- Struggle for Control: India’s bowlers, apart from a few bright moments, struggled to maintain consistent control over the Australian batsmen. The inability to keep the scoring rate in check allowed Australia to build partnerships and establish a dominant position in the game. Despite the commendable efforts of Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur with the bat, India found themselves playing catch-up throughout the match.
The first day’s performance set the stage for Australia’s dominance in the subsequent days. While India showed glimpses of promise, missed opportunities and a lack of control allowed Australia to take command of the game. It served as a reminder of the unforgiving nature of Test cricket, where small margins and missed chances can have significant consequences.
India’s Top Order Struggles in the 2023 WTC Final: Missed Opportunities and Lack of Consistency
India’s top-order batsmen failed to convert their starts into substantial scores in both innings of the 2023 WTC Final. Let’s examine the performances of the top four batsmen and their impact on India’s chances:
- Rohit Sharma: As the captain, expectations were high from Rohit Sharma, but he couldn’t deliver an inspirational performance. In the first innings, he fell victim to Pat Cummins, being trapped LBW while being caught on the crease. In the second innings, he seemed set for a big score but lost concentration against Nathan Lyon, resulting in his dismissal for 43.
- Shubman Gill: Gill showed promise with some elegant shots, including a cover drive and a pull, but failed to convert his starts into substantial contributions. He was dismissed by Boland in both innings, with the second dismissal involving a controversial catch by Cameron Green.
- Cheteshwar Pujara: Pujara’s dismissals in both innings were similar to Gill’s, indicating a lack of decisiveness. Both batsmen were caught in two minds, struggling to commit to playing or leaving the ball. Pujara, with his experience, should have performed better. In the second innings, he departed while attempting an uncharacteristic shot over the wicketkeeper’s head.
The top three batsmen, Rohit, Gill, and Pujara, were expected to lay a strong foundation for the middle order, featuring Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravindra Jadeja. Unfortunately, they faltered instead. While Kohli looked solid on both occasions, a crucial error on the fifth day contributed to India’s eventual defeat.
India’s defeat in another knockout match at an ICC event raises uncertainties about their performance in the upcoming ODI World Cup at home. It is now crucial for the team to reflect on their shortcomings and regroup. The response and improvements they make from here will be intriguing to observe.