There were mixed fortunes for Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne during the Cricket World Cup final after both players appeared to be vying for the same spot at one stage in the tournament. Australia won a sixth men's World Cup title on Sunday night, beating India by six wickets in the final.
Australia's bowling and fielding were superb after Pat Cummins won the toss and sent India in to bat, restricting the tournament hosts to 240. But an early wobble from the Aussies left them staring down the barrel of a brutal defeat.
Cummins' side lost David Warner (seven), Mitch Marsh (15) and Smith (four) early, leaving them reeling at 3-47. Smith'd dismissal left the cricket world in disbelief when he failed to use the DRS to overturn an incorrect LBW decision.
Replays showed the ball had struck Smith's pad outside the line of off-stump, but the prolific Aussie batter inexplicably opted against using a review. As many pointed out, Smith usually knows exactly where his off-stump is and has a very high usage of DRS.
But he decided against using a review and trudged off the field - much to the shock of cricket fans and pundits. “When Steve Smith sees that replay, it’s going to break his heart even more,” Ricky Ponting said in commentary.
Shane Watson added: “My heart’s just broken after seeing that. That will break the Aussie hearts for sure."
Dinesh Karthik said: “In a way, sadly, it sums up a little bit of the mind set as well. If it was a Test Match, I can promise you Steven Smith would have definitely thought about reviewing it because he is the most important wicket. I don’t know how he was convinced to not take the review today.”
— Saj Sadiq (@SajSadiqCricket) November 19, 2023
I screamed that was “impact outside” in real time when this happened.. Watching from a T.V.
What is the excuse for an umpire being there right in front of it and not get it right?
Whats even more ridiculous is that a quality player like Steve Smith not reviewing that. 😉 pic.twitter.com/8O4qcouv3W
— Kanishka Roshan (@KrosaniTy) November 19, 2023
Perhaps the Jasprit Bumrah delivery was so good, and it was, that even Steve Smith decided it deserved a wicket & didn’t review. Bizarre to see him not go for a DRS and that too in a World Cup final #IndvAus #CWC23
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) November 19, 2023
Steve Smith is convinced every lbw ever given against him isn't out except for the one that isn't actually out
— Ben Gardner (@Ben_Wisden) November 19, 2023
I can't believe Smith didn't review that. It's a world cup finall ffs. Never looked out #ind
— Steve Haywood (@SteveHaywood15) November 19, 2023
Still can’t believe Steve Smith didn’t review that.
— Kooks (@Kookie_Kuhle) November 19, 2023
Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head guide Aussies to glory
Thankfully for the Aussies it didn't cost them, with Labuschagne and Travis Head combining for a match-winning partnership of 192 runs. Head blasted a brilliant 137 off 120 balls, while Labuschagne showed incredible composure in a measured knock of 58 off 110 balls.
The pair got Australia to within two runs of victory before Head finally departed, allowing Glenn Maxwell to hit the winning runs on the first ball he faced. Labuschagne's innings came after criticism that he bats too slowly in one-day cricket and doesn't have a good enough strike rate.
Many felt the Aussies couldn't afford to carry both Smith and Labuschagne in the middle order due to their similar styles, which have often stymied the side after a red-hot start. But Labuschagne's innings on Sunday night silenced the haters and showed exactly what he offers the white-ball team.
Remarkably, Labushagne has now played 19 ODIs straight after initially being left out of Australia's tour of South Africa and the subsequent World Cup squad. He managed to get back into the team and stay there due to a number of injuries, and won a selection battle with Marcus Stoinis for the semi-final and final.
"I'm a man of faith and believe in god, but the way everything's happened, it's unbelievable to me and it's just amazing," Labuschagne said after the final. "I'm lost for words. The amount of times that I thought I'm done.
"Even last night, team didn't get named till about 10pm. I thought the coaches went to the ground. It might be dewy, I might be out. I'm very thankful for them for sticking with me. I don't have many words to explain. Three months ago, I wasn't even in South Africa in the one-day team and to play 19 games straight from there, it's truly a miracle."
Head said of his partnership with Labuschagne: "I was a little bit nervous, but Marnus played exceptional. It was awesome to bat with him. He soaked up all the pressure and it was just an amazing partnership."
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