'It ended up backfiring': Ponting, Nasser, Brett Lee expose tactical pitch ploy that will haunt India in WC final loss
Brett Lee felt that had India prepared a bouncier wicket, which could have aided their world-class pace attack, the Men in Blue could have won.
There was a lot of talk about the allegation against BCCI for having the control over the pitch prepared for the World Cup final between India and Australia and it took a major part of the discussions in the build-up to the summit clash in Ahmedabad - and it seems like the chatter is here to stay for a few while even as the hosts lost by six wickets. Travis Head emerged as the 'Player of the Match' with his stellar knock of 137 as Australia chased down the target of 241 with seven overs to spare, but much ahead of one of the finest innings witnessed in a World Cup final, another decision went in favour of Australia - toss - and it turned out to be a masterstroke.
The World Cup final was supposed to be played on a used track, where India had defeated Pakistan by seven wickets in their league game last month. Pat Cummins reportedly raised concerns over the issue. And despite being left in two minds over his call at the toss, as admitted by the captain after their big win, he eventually opted to bowl first.
Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting, during Head and Marnus Labuschagne's valiant 192-run match-winning stand, reckoned that India's pitch ploy “backfired on them”.
“It was very, very sub-continental conditions today,” he said. “A wicket preparation that has probably ended up backfiring on India to be totally fair.”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain further explained Ponting's remark saying that the pitch backfired because of India's lower-order being untested in this World Cup, which led to KL Rahul and Virat Kohli approaching a defensive gameplan after losing three quick wickets.
“India are still a great side - but the pitch brought Australia into it,” Hussain said on Sky Sports. “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. They were worried about Shami at No 8.”
Former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee, speaking to Fox Sports, felt that had India prepared a bouncier wicket, which could have aided their world-class pace attack, the Men in Blue could have won. Mohammed Shami picked 24 wickets in just seven matches with three five-wicket hauls while Jasprit Bumrah snared 20 in 11 games.
“Traditionally if you look at that wicket, it rags and turns square so any dew and moisture on that wicket will allow the ball to skid on and be easier to chase,” Lee said. “I was surprised, if you have a look at the Indian attack, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami, they’ve been on fire this World Cup. It’s the quick bowlers who have been doing very well so I actually thought they’d try to knick off the Aussie top order. If they could have made some serious inroads early, that would have been their best way to try and take out that 240 and dominate. I was surprised they prepared a low and slow wicket which didn’t help them.”