Australia are champions for the sixth time after beating India by six wickets in the Latest Cricket World Cup 2023 final in Ahmedabad.
Hosts India won all 10 matches leading to the final and were the hot favorites to lift the trophy, but fell at the final hurdle.
Al Jazeera takes a look at five things that went wrong that day for India as their winning streak ended at the worst possible time.
1. The draw, the terrain and the conditions
From the moment the pitch was revealed, all eyes were on the toss and all talk was about what the captains would do next.
The late change of pitch for India’s semi-final against New Zealand surprised pundits of the game and played into the hands of the hosts.
The pitch for the final in Ahmedabad was very worn – much to everyone’s surprise for an event of such scale.
Would this suit Indian spinners and the hosts’ prolific batting ability through middle overs? Would this also reduce the impact of Australia’s striking bowlers? Rather the opposite.
The surface gamble failed for India – almost from the moment they lost the toss.
The Indian fans remained silent when Australian Pat Cummins called correctly, but then roared in delight when he elected to field. It’s hard to imagine Rohit Sharma sharing the elation of the Ahmedabad crowd. Below are more detailed reasons why the draw was so crucial in hindsight.
– BCCI (@BCCI) November 19, 2023
2. The counting of the borders of India
Rohit Sharma hit hard against the Australian seamers with the two new balls on either side and it paid off to some extent. Virat Kohli continued the charge and his three consecutive boundaries off Mitchell Starc at the start of the seventh over looked ominous for Australia.
However, Shreyas Iyer’s dismissal in the 11th over sparked a spell of no-holds-barred play that lasted over an hour and 90 balls.
Kohli was preparing in response to the conditions as he knew India’s hopes of dictating the final rested on him. But when there was a slow pitch and Cummins’ near-perfect off-spin took the better of Kohli, the silence in the stadium reflected the nerves of the nation.
Towards the end of their innings, the Indian batters once again failed to score a boundary for over an hour.
3. Australian quicks
India’s fast bowlers were what many saw as the reason for the hosts’ dominance and title as favorites heading into the final.
Mohammed Shami only came into the team in the fourth match, following an injury to Hardik Pandya, but grabbed headlines with his strike rate.
In the final itself, the Australian seamers easily won the match on even terms. Josh Hazlewood is renowned for his tenacious line and length – deadly on a slow pitch. Starc is devastating on any terrain with his skills and aggression as a left armer. Cummins is the perfect foil for openers with his change of pace.
The trio proved to be a perfect storm on a “sticky” wicket, as Ravi Shastri described it.
It was just the start of India’s innings. In the end, the ball, scraped on the abrasive surface, turned upside down and India’s hopes of reaching a par score of 280-290 dwindled.
Adam Zampa joins an elite group of spinners
– Latest (@Latest) November 20, 2023
Shami rightly grabbed the headlines, but the economical bowling of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja was also crucial.
There were indications that India might field Ravichandran Ashwin on the slow Ahmedabad pitch, but that was not the case. VSwould he have played such an important role in the finale?
Meanwhile, Australia’s spinners made good use of the afternoon heat on the slow pitch. Glenn Maxwell caught Rohit, while Adam Zampa caught Jasprit Bumrah.
Their Indian counterparts showed similar rates of control and economy, but remained wicketless.
5. Indian seamstresses
The pitch was not the same for the Indian seaming trio as it was for the Australian attack.
The dew, which had saturated Ahmedabad in the days leading up to the match, was not as heavy as expected, but the change in conditions under the light was enough to hamper the Indian bowlers.
The ball came to the bat much better throughout the chase and there was enough moisture on the surface from the dew to not have an abrasive effect on the ball. Indeed, even the natural swing at the start of the round was not as pronounced as it was at the start of the match.
By the 43rd over, when the winning runs were scored, any hope that the ball would tip over for India was long gone.
Had India reached a total closer to 300 and the match had ended, perhaps Shami, Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj could have knocked the ball over – and the result for the hosts.
If Rohit had won the toss, would it have been a story of five things going right for India?