The defeat in the World Cup final left the entire nation shattered, drowning in disappointment, and grappling with collective grief. A meticulous analysis sought to pinpoint the reasons behind this defeat. Questions arose: Was it the toss, pitch conditions, the impact of dew, or perhaps specific shots or dismissals like Rohit Sharma's, Virat Kohli's, or KL Rahul's? Surprisingly, the primary answer came down to a stark statistical fact: a mere four boundaries were struck in India's last 40 overs, marking a critical tipping point.
Delving into this statistic, it was revealed that two of those boundaries came from the bats of Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, resulting in the lowest boundary count for India in a completed innings since July 2011. This scarcity of boundaries reflected an uncharacteristically timid approach, deviating from India's usual aggressive style of play. The match's tone was set when Australia won the toss and elected to bowl, capitalizing on the pitch's variability that seemingly transitioned between various playing conditions.
Throughout the Indian innings, an overriding narrative persisted across commentary and social media platforms: the expectation that without dew, a total of 240 would be competitive, and possibly challenging for Australia if the dew factor was absent. However, despite these anticipations and assumptions, both Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja failed to make an impact, remaining wicketless despite the absence of substantial dew. Australia, despite the challenging conditions, comfortably secured victory with ample overs to spare.
The stark contrast in pitch behavior between the innings was evident in how Australia's Marnus Labuschagne managed singles, unlike Rahul, who struggled to maneuver the ball without giving chances to the fielders. While Kohli's patient 54 sustained hope, his eventual dismissal dealt a severe blow. Subsequently, between overs 11 and 40, Australia's effective bowling fetched three vital wickets, effectively altering the game's dynamics and momentum.
Rahul's cautious innings disappointed, deviating from his usual approach, and he struggled against the bowling attack, slipping into a defensive stance that hampered his usual adeptness against spin. The Indian batting lineup's perceived depth was exposed, with vulnerabilities manifesting in the absence of reliable middle-order batsmen. The absence of certain players like Shardul Thakur or Axar Patel further exacerbated India's limitations, forcing Rahul into a restricted approach that extended even to his wicketkeeping as he grappled with containment issues.
Criticism arose regarding the cautious mindset adopted by Rahul and Kohli. While a more aggressive approach might have been desired in an ideal scenario, the sluggish nature of Pitch 5, unexpectedly favoring the opposition, contradicted initial expectations and strategic assessments. This misjudgment highlighted the management's oversight, particularly considering India's batting strength.
Ultimately, as the cricketing dust settles, the players will need to move on. Reflections may center on those crucial 40 overs, emphasizing the need for adaptability, strategic adjustments, and perhaps a more proactive batting strategy..