Ahmedabad, November 20
By the time Australia twisted the knife deep in the Indian team’s heart, there were large patches of emptiness in the stands. The fans had started leaving the ground well before the game ended at
9.21 pm, each strike by Travis Head a nail in the coffin.
The players were heartbroken — Rohit Sharma’s eyes were moist, Mohammed Siraj was weeping, Virat Kohli had his face covered with his cap, hiding his sorrow.
The result broke the players’ hearts. Rohit had said the day before the final that it would be a big day. “For me, this is the biggest event, World Cup 50 overs. Since childhood, I’ve grown up watching the 50-over World Cup. So, for me, this is the biggest moment,” he’d said.
Yet, Rohit maintained on the eve of the game, the team was calm.
But did the Indians get ahead of the moment, or allow the moment to overwhelm them?
You could argue that KL Rahul could have been braver in his batting, or that Suryakumar Yadav should have been sent in before Ravindra Jadeja, or that when he did come in, Surya should have shown greater urgency and done better than 18 off 28 balls.
What of Rohit? He had made 37 off 30, but did he get a bit too greedy? With three balls left in the Powerplay, he had powered India to 76; but he wanted to make the last three balls count, and which bowler better for this than an off-spinner, Glenn Maxwell? Rohit skipped down the wicket and sent the ball up, soaring towards long-off, and Head ran and took an unbelievable catch.
Rohit has been criticised for impatience, but the critics miss the point that he’d played in this manner through the tournament, and India had compiled a staggering 10-0 record due to his aggression — winning with an average margin of 175 runs, and 6.4 wickets (with 64 balls remaining) when they chased. There’s the view that Rohit is selling himself short — that a man who has three double centuries in ODIs, and five other scores of 150 or over, should have adopted a less risky batting approach. But then, he’s 36 and his biggest scores came when he was in his 20s or early 30s — he last hit an ODI double century nearly six years ago, last touched 150 close to four years ago. Fitness was never Rohit’s greatest strength, and as his 37th birthday nears, he’s very unlikely to become very fit and bat long enough to touch 200.
For these reasons, maybe he’s figured that he’s going to play the T20 way.
If India seemed timid, the Australians were brave — after winning the toss, Pat Cummins opted to bowl first, figuring that his team was strong enough to chase India’s total in a stadium full of fans shrieking their hearts out for India, barracking his players.
With that move, Cummins stole the march over India. He and the other bowlers kept India to just 240, aided by fielding that was sensational. When they batted, the Australians came hard at India, but lost wickets, three down at 47. Head likes to attack, but he and Marnus Labuschagne did the hard grind before striking back at India.
Rohit’s men were diffident, but Cummins’s were hardly that. “It’s really hard to be standoffish in a final… we wanted to make sure we weren’t the team that stood off today,” Cummins said. “I can’t speak for the opposition, but the group today was as confident going to finals as I’ve seen the team.”
Cummins said playing in front of “130,000 blue Indian shirts” was an unforgettable experience. “The good thing was they weren’t too noisy for most of it,” he said.
The official attendance was 92,453, actually — 40,000 other seats were probably filled by pass-holders. The silence of a crowd of this size would haunt the Men in Blue for the rest of their lives.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Southern districts of Odisha and eastern Telangana continue ...
On camera: Karni Sena chief Sukhdev Gogamedi shot dead at Jaipur home, one assailant killed in exchange of fire
Assailants went to Gogamedi’s house on pretext of meeting hi...
No word on how many ministers would be sworn in and whether ...
'Sachin Pilot's movements, phone were being tracked and monitored', claims outgoing Rajasthan CM Gehlot's OSD
Lokesh Sharma, who was denied a ticket to contest Rajasthan ...
He had called the December 6 meeting of the bloc after the p...