India faced a setback in the 2023 World Cup final, stumbling at the last hurdle as Australia secured a crucial six-wicket victory at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday, November 19.
Despite their impressive performance in the league stage, the Men in Blue faltered in the final. Few aspects worked in their favor as Pat Cummins made a bold decision at the toss and effectively utilized the conditions in the first innings, limiting the hosts to a subpar score.
Travis Head’s outstanding performance led Australia to their sixth World Cup title, securing a victory over Rohit Sharma and the Indian team for the second time in an ICC final this year. Australia seems to have a winning formula, and it’s something India should consider reflecting upon.
Here are three lessons India can take from Australia following their loss in the 2023 World Cup Final:
#1 India needs batters and bowlers who can do more than one thing well
Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma bowled a bit in India’s last group-stage game against the Netherlands. However, none of them are skilled enough to be dependable as sixth bowlers.
On the other hand, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, and Kuldeep Yadav can’t be relied upon to score runs regularly.
After Hardik Pandya’s injury, India participated in the entire World Cup without any batters or bowlers, except for Ravindra Jadeja, who could contribute in multiple areas.
This became a drawback in the final, requiring the middle-order batters to be overly cautious in the middle overs, with Shami and others not contributing significantly to the total.
Australia’s top three, with players like Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh, offer strong sixth-bowling options. They also have part-time bowlers such as Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, along with a skilled spinner in Glenn Maxwell.
Both Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc excel in batting, and even Adam Zampa is proficient. Australia’s bench includes additional all-round options like Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, and Marcus Stoinis, who didn’t feature in the 2023 World Cup final.
#2 Being a bit flexible with the batting order can be very helpful
Throughout the 2023 World Cup, India stuck to a fixed batting order, making a change only in the final by sending Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Suryakumar Yadav. Having some flexibility would be beneficial for them, particularly to handle injuries and achieve greater success.
In the semifinal against New Zealand, the team opted to send in KL Rahul, even though Suryakumar is specifically in the team for the role of accelerating in the death overs. Australia retained Travis Head in their 2023 World Cup squad due to an additional opening option in Mitchell Marsh.
They strategically placed Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne lower in the order. With versatile players like Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green, they adjusted the batting lineup as needed, promoting Maxwell when required. The seamless inclusion of Head led to match-winning performances.
Whether India could have made similar adjustments under comparable circumstances is open to debate. While having clearly defined roles for their batters provided clarity, they might not have been proactive enough with potential changes.
The inclusion of Suryakumar in the squad didn’t prove beneficial, as it was evident he struggled to make an impact in ODIs when required to bat for an extended period.
#3 Winning tournaments like the World Cup requires more than just having a great team
The World Cup doesn’t always go to the best team in the tournament; it often goes to the side that performs better on the final night. Despite being a formidable team, potentially the best across formats in recent years, India needs to reflect on why they have relatively few trophies to show for their excellence.
While some might attribute it to unfortunate circumstances, there could be more to the story. In the World Cup final, India, typically tactically sound, made errors, and Australia’s intense fielding contrasted with India’s lacklustre performance against Travis Head.
Despite India’s dejected fielders, Australia’s consistent success against supposedly superior teams raises questions about their winning formula.