At the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19, 2023, India, the cricketing powerhouse, suffered a heart-wrenching defeat in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. Despite an impeccable 10-on-10 winning streak leading up to the final, the Indian team fell short in their championship pursuit, managing only 240 runs.
The defeat left the entire Indian squad and their fans devastated. The usually composed faces of players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Mohammad Shami were marked by tears, showcasing the depth of their emotional investment in the tournament. The dressing room, once a hub of celebration, was reduced to silence, echoing the collective heartbreak felt by the team.
Until the final, India’s journey in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 had been nothing short of extraordinary. Dominating every match, the team showcased unparalleled skills and determination. The tournament witnessed arguably the best World Cup run for India, even though the ultimate victory remained elusive.
From the outset, India exhibited a level of cricketing prowess that left their opponents trailing. The team’s performance was so impeccable that, until the final, no other team could stand firm in their path. The Indian players were flawless in execution, making the final defeat all the more unexpected.
In the final showdown, Australian skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and elected to field first. Indian captain Rohit Sharma, consistent in providing fast starts throughout the tournament, contributed with a brisk 47 off 31 balls. However, the Indian innings faltered as Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer failed to make an impact. The partnership between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul failed to flourish on the slow and dry wicket, culminating in India posting a below-par total of 240 runs.
Post the defeat, former Indian star Gautam Gambhir and Pakistani legend Wasim Akram questioned Rohit Sharma’s strategic decisions in the crucial final. Gambhir, in particular, raised concerns about the demotion of Suryakumar Yadav to No. 7, emphasizing that it was not the right call. Akram added his voice, pointing out that if Hardik Pandya was in the lineup, the move might have made more sense.
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India sent in Ravindra Jadeja at number 6, ahead of Suryakumar Yadav. Jadeja could not do his bit with the bat. Suryakumar Yadav also could not get going with the tailenders at the other end. Surya has been backed for the whole tournament, right from the time Hardik Pandya got injured. However, he has not delivered the goods.
Gambhir argued, “I didn’t understand why Jadeja was sent ahead of Suryakumar Yadav. Why was he demoted to No. 7?” He further expressed that if KL Rahul was batting with a certain tempo alongside Kohli, it would have made more sense to send in Suryakumar Yadav and let him play aggressive cricket. Akram echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of a player’s mindset and how knowing the next batsman influences their approach.
Akram quickly added, “I mean he is playing purely as a batter there. I could have understood the move if Hardik was there in the line-up.”
“Imagine if KL Rahul as batting with a certain tempo with Kohli then it makes even more sense to sent Suryakumar in and ask him to play aggressive cricket, play his natural cricket because you still have Jadeja. It is very easy to say for an expert to say that Suryakumar struggled. But the player’s mindset is that if he gets out the next batters are Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Siraj and Kuldeep. However, if he knows that the next batsman in is Jadeja then he would have had a different mindset. If you were not confident in Suryakumar at No. 6 then you might as well should have picked someone else,” Gambhir concluded.
In retrospect, the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 will go down as a bitter pill for Indian cricket fans. Despite the unparalleled success leading up to the final, the defeat highlighted the unpredictable nature of cricket. The strategic decisions, the batting woes, and the emotional aftermath all contribute to a narrative of heartbreak for a team that had given its heart and soul to the tournament.