Pitch Talk Takes Center Stage
Well before the Cricket World Cup 2023 teams were finalized, discussions about the pitch dominated the tournament chatter. As the semi-finals approached, the focus shifted to the nature of the pitch for the knockout matches. The final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad saw the hosts grappling with the consequences of a slow and sluggish wicket, prompting cricket legends to call out what they deemed a ‘tactical blunder’ in pitch preparation.
Ponting’s Critique: A Tactical Backfire
Australia’s decision to field first, following Pat Cummins winning the toss, set the tone for the final. India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, expressed his preference for batting first but ultimately faced the consequences of Australia’s strategic pitch assessment. Ricky Ponting, commentating during the match, labeled India’s wicket preparation a “tactical blunder” that had backfired.
“It was very, very sub-continental conditions today,” Ponting commented. “A wicket preparation that has probably ended up backfiring on India to be totally fair.”
Vaughan’s Assessment: Clever Tactics and Pitch Advantage
Former England captain Michael Vaughan credited Australia’s clever tactics and the strategic mindset of their think tank. He emphasized that Australia, perceived as a 280-run team, seized the opportunity provided by the pitch. Vaughan highlighted the success of Australia’s plan to silence the crowd and expressed surprise at the efficiency with which they achieved their target.
“They did exactly what Pat Cummins said they would, they’ve silenced the crowd. They’ve done it in great fashion,” Vaughan asserted.
Hussain’s Perspective: India’s Long Tail and All-Round Dilemma
Nasser Hussain, another former England captain, provided insight into the impact of India’s long tail on the match outcome. He pointed out that India’s inability to have effective all-round options hurt their batting strategy. According to Hussain, the concern is about the lower-order batsmen, particularly Shami at No. 8, restricted the aggression of key players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul in the middle overs.
“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,” Hussain commented on Sky Sports.