Ahmedabad, November 19
The best laid plans go awry when the heat is on — all fighters have a plan until the first punch lands on the face.
After 10 wins on the trot, and with all players in the form of their lives, Rohit Sharma’s boys did get a punch in the face from a typically tough, professional Australian team. After they lost the toss, and after Rohit’s typically six-filled knock, not much went India’s way.
After winning the toss, Pat Cummins took the surprising but very brave decision to bowl first — not many captains would opt to chase in perhaps the biggest game of their life. Though Rohit said he would have batted, Cummins’ decision must have caused doubts to crop up in his mind.
Rohit batted well, but his attacking partner Shubman Gill fell early, perhaps having forced himself to play an aggressive shot off a ball that was not quite there for the pull shot. Rohit’s dismissal put the onus on Shreyas Iyer to take the aggressor’s role; Iyer responded with an early four, but fell for just four when he edged the ball behind. The wicket was on the slower side, and it made the Indians struggle; the batters struggled to find the boundary, and there were huge gaps between the ball reaching the ropes — there was no four from the 11th to 26.2 overs; then again, none for nearly 10 overs after that. From the 11th to the 49th overs, only three fours were hit. It was not due to only the slowness of the track, for Australia’s fielding effort was just brilliant. Virat Kohli and Rahul added 97 runs, but hit just one four.
India’s pace bowlers didn’t begin very well, and 15 runs came off the first over from Jasprit Bumrah. Mohammed Shami struck early, but Bumrah got a wicket with a pedestrian ball, and also got the LBW decision against Smith, even though the ball struck Smith’s pad outside the line of stumps. The pace guns were not quite on target.
Rohit hoped that the left-arm spin twins Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav would make use of the slowish wicket; but Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne played calmly, got settled — and then started to attack. When the pacers were brought back, they were ineffective in the face of aggressive batting. In the final analysis, the target was too paltry for Australia — Rahul Dravid said later that they were 40 runs short on this track, against a team that was stronger in the mind, more desirous of victory in the heart.
Tough Aussie team
After 10 wins on the trot, and with all players in the form of their lives, Rohit Sharma’s boys did get a punch in the face from a typically tough, professional Australian team.
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