Pat Cummins' controversial decision to win the toss and bowl first has paid off in spades in the Cricket World Cup final after Australia took down India by six wickets to win their sixth ODI trophy. Cummins left commentators and pundits heavily divided when he sent India in to bat in Ahmedabad on Sunday night, with many believing the gutsy gamble would backfire.
But the Aussie captain read the pitch to perfection, recognising that the slow deck would be difficult for batting early. Cummins also banked on the fact that dew was expected to make batting easier under lights in the second innings - both of which came to fruition.
After a red-hot start, the Indian batters struggled to get going and couldn't apply any run-rate pressure on Australia. After regularly making totals in excess of 300 throughout the tournament, India could only muster 240 while batting first.
But the Aussies had it much easier after seeing off the new ball, with the dew speeding up the deck and making things much easier for batting. After early trouble at 3-47, Travis Head blasted a masterful 137 off 120 balls and Marnus Labuschagne contributed a steady 58 not out off 110 balls as the Aussies chased down the target with seven overs remaining.
It made a mockery of those who doubted Cummins' decision to bowl first - and his captaincy in general over the last few years. Prakash Wakankar of BBC Test Match Special had said after the toss: “I’m not an expert but are Australia overthinking the spin and the dew, hoping that it gets easier to get second? But I am still surprised. I thought it was a certainty that whoever would win the toss would bat."
Brad Haddin said on Fox Sports: “I’m shocked. I thought the Australians would have batted first, put runs on the board in the final and then let the final play out from there. Rohit Sharma (who said he would've batted anyway) has obviously read the conditions a lot different to what we did but you get first use of the surface we’re not quite sure how it is going to play but I thought Australia would’ve batted first.”
Cummins rotated his bowlers superbly and didn't let the Indian batters settle into any sort of rhythm. At one stage of the innings he used nine different bowlers in a 10-over span.
He also took 2-34, becoming the first paceman in the whole tournament to bowl 10 overs without conceding a boundary. Amidst it all he claimed the key wicket of Virat Kohli for 54 when it looked like he was on the verge of going really big.
Cricket world in awe of Pat Cummins' 'genius' captaincy
Journalist Daniel Cherny wrote on social media: "Pat Cummins playing one of the magnificent captain's games for Australia in living memory. Gutsy toss call, shrewd bowling changes, a couple of huge wickets and keeping India in check."
Fellow journalist Mark Gottlieb added: "Remember when right wingers were crapping on Pat Cummins at the start of the year for the dumbest possible reasons? Calling for him to stand down. Don’t they all look like a bunch of right morons right now."
The Aussies appeared on the verge of collapse when they lost David Warner (seven), Mitch Marsh (15) and Steve Smith (four) early. But Head and Labuschagne righted the ship superbly, putting on a 192-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
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An Aussie treble in 2023 🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/l7Mqb1GcCi
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) November 19, 2023
Head departed with Australia on the cusp of victory, but Glenn Maxwell slogged the two runs required on the first ball he faced, sparking wild scenes of celebration in the Aussie camp. The triumph is Australia's record-extending sixth World Cup trophy, with India and the West Indies the next best on two.
It also comes on the back of retaining the Ashes in England and winning the World Test Championship final - also against India. "This pips it all, this is top of the top of the mountain," Cummins said. "It will be a year we remember for a long, long time. It's been an awesome. We've spent the whole Aussie winter away overseas playing playing. But we've had a lot of success."
Whatever people say about Cummins captaincy . The history books will say from June to Nov 2023 Australia won World Test Championship, retained Ashes and won the ODI World Cup all under his leadership #INDvAUS #ICCCricketWorldCup
— John Wright (@johnwright15) November 19, 2023
Any doubts over Cummins’ captaincy now well and truly put to bed, thankfully - what a legend
— Steele Tallon (@SteeleTallon) November 19, 2023
No matter what happens from here, that might be Pat Cummins best captaincy display in the field, in ODIs at least. Suspect it might be a tough chase against India's attack. And will conditions change? We'll find out in dew course (sorry, I can't stop). #CWC23 #INDvAUS
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) November 19, 2023
Remember when right wingers were crapping on Pat Cummins at the start of the year for the dumbest possible reasons? Calling for him to stand down. Don’t they all look like a bunch of right morons right now. #CWC23Final #INDvAUS
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) November 19, 2023
Pat Cummins playing one of the magnificent captain's games for Australia in living memory. Gutsy toss call, shrewd bowling changes, a couple of huge wickets and keeping India in check.https://t.co/CARrQ4Y7wI
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) November 19, 2023
I am wiping the egg off my face. Cummins is turning out to be a genius!👍😊🇦🇺 https://t.co/ii1bmqUgi7
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) November 19, 2023
pat cummins the genius that you are for reading this pitch correctly. Went against the conventional batting first choice and chose to bowl because he knew his batters would’nt have survived in the day.
TAKE A BOW @patcummins30
— K. (@urbanmonnk) November 19, 2023
Pat Cummins is a genius. One of the best cricketing brains of our times. Bold, brave and brilliant! pic.twitter.com/tvbaRur4KQ
— Faizism. (@karwan_e_faiz) November 19, 2023
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