Ahmedabad: When India were set to take on Australia in the final of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023, they were entering the contest as favourites thanks to their unbeatable run in the competition. The Indian cricket fans were keen to see Rohit and Co. lifting the silverware by beating Australia in the summit clash and were hoping that the team will continue their incredible form from the league stage of the competition.
Australia were also going strong in the competition as they booked a spot in the final after losing the first couple of matches with a series of wins. However, the final unfolded in an unexpected manner as the Indian batting unit, which was looking formidable before the final, failed to score that day and their usual template to approach the innings didn't work.
Before the final, India focused on posting a huge total and bundling out opposition teams to win the game. Rohit Sharma provided aggressive starts at the top while the middle order built the innings with Virat Kohli anchoring it in the middle phase of the game. Other batters scored around him freely and even Virat Kohli used to boost the run rate after setting his eye in. The 'Men in Blue' also used to get a brilliant final flourish but a solid performance from the middle order was the root cause of it.
However, there was a twist in the tale in the final as Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and invited the Indian team to bat first which was their strength till the key clash of the tournament. He played on the opposition's strength taking a gamble and it paid off due to the lack of attacking intent from the Indian batters coupled with the sluggish nature of the surface.
India were off to a good start scoring 80/2 inside the first 10 overs as Rohit Sharma stuck to his attacking approach by playing a knock of 47 runs from just 31 balls. However, Rohit's opening partner Shubman Gill departed early in the powerplay which paved the way for two anchors in the middle.
Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer were at the crease but the latter was dismissed soon on a single-digit score and KL Rahul was at the crease. On their road to the final, Virat Kohli stayed for long in the middle in most matches by dealing in ones and twos while batters from the other end used to take chances to steer the scoreboard.
In the final, two anchors, Kohli and Rahul became too cautious to build the innings and put the team in a position of strength. Virat Kohli managed to get 54 runs from 63 balls but he was supposed to take chances considering KL Rahul got himself into a mode where he was handling every delivery with caution.
KL Rahul was resilient from one end but his sluggish knock of 66 runs from 107 deliveries was also one of the key reasons India failed to up the tempo of the innings. The cutters from the Australian pacers also helped the cause and it was too difficult for other batters to play their shots from the start on a slow surface. India had lost most of the key batters except for KL Rahul while entering the slog overs and it also hampered their finish in the last 10 overs.
The failure of the Indian team to replicate their batting template of the league stage games and semi-final became the key cause behind India losing the marquee clash on Sunday.