Ricky Ponting has highlighted how India's manipulation of their pitches backfired spectacularly in the Cricket World Cup final after Australia won by six wickets in a huge boilover. The World Cup in India seemed to be set up perfectly for the host nation to win, with the ICC bowing to the BCCI in terms of schedule and the pitches that were used.
India managed to convince the ICC to switch pitches at the last minute for their semi-final win over New Zealand, and they also got their way when it was decided that an old pitch would be used in the final. It was the same surface that India beat Pakistan on earlier in the tournament, and appeared very rough and worn.
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India thought the pitch would play straight into the hands of their prolific spinners, with Aussie captain Pat Cummins even raising concerns about the state it was in during the final. But in the end Cummins read the pitch much better than counterpart Rohit Sharma, who admitted he would have batted first even when Cummins opted to bowl.
Cummins recognised how slow the pitch would be and sent India in, with the tournament hosts struggling with the lack of pace. The Aussie captain also knew that dew would speed up the deck later in the evening under lights, making it much easier for his batters.
Both of those predictions were spot on, with India struggling to a sub-par total of 240 before Travis Head 137) and Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) blitzed them with a 192-run partnership under the lights. For all the manipulation earlier in the tournament, Sharma and India got it very wrong in the final.
Speaking in commentary, Ponting said the pitch selection "backfired on India". He commented: “It was very, very sub-continental conditions today. A wicket preparation that has probably ended up backfiring on India to be totally fair.”
Cummins said afterwards: “It was a little slower than I thought. It didn’t particularly spin as much as we thought either but I thought everyone adjusted well and bowled some tight lines.
“We were tossing it up (bowling first). We’ve been batting first for most of the tournament but we thought tonight was a good chase night because it felt it might a little bit easier and everyone was pretty keen to get out there.”
Rohit Sharma says India 'not good enough' in World Cup final
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said of the Aussies: “Strategically they are a very clever team. They’ve clearly got a very clever think-tank. I don’t think they are a 320 side, they are a 280 side and preparing a pitch like this gave Australia a chance.
“They did exactly what Pat Cummins said they would, they’ve silenced the crowd. They’ve done it in great fashion. I don’t know anyone who thought the game would be done in 43 overs with Australia coasting to the target.”
Sharma summed up his side's performance as "not good enough". He added: "The result hasn't gone our way and we know that we were not good enough on the day. But proud of the team.
"It wasn't supposed to be. Honestly, 20-30 more runs would've been good. I thought when KL (Rahul) and Virat (Kohli) were batting, we were looking at 270-280 at that point and we kept losing wickets.
"With 240 on the board, we wanted early wickets but credit to Travis Head and Marnus. They put us completely out of the game and I thought the wicket got better to bat under lights. I mean we knew under lights, it would be better but don't want to give that as an excuse."
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