As India defended 241 runs in the World Cup final against Australia, captain Rohit Sharma decided to give the new ball to Mohammed Shami at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday. It was a break from the routine that Team India had followed for the tournament. While the right-arm seamer is an lethal exponent of the new ball because of his impeccable seam position, he had been bowling as first-change in this tournament since he came into the side.
It was Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj who usually bowled from either end with the new ball. Usually it would be Siraj bowling a short burst in his spell before Rohit turning to Shami. After India’s defeat, former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram felt that India should have stuck to a tried and tested opening bowling combination in the final.
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“Psychologically, Shami knew that he comes first change, so the ball is controllable as it is a little old. Giving him the new ball in the World Cup final, out of the box thinking, I am all for it. But, Siraj should have bowled 2-3 overs at the start. If nothing had happened, Shami could have been brought on,” Akram told Sportskeeda.
Shami had been brilliant against the left-handers throughout the campaign. When he picked up seven wickets against New Zealand in the semifinal, he finished with India’s best-ever figures in the tournament. One of the features of his bowling was how he would come around the wicket and trouble the Kiwi left-handers.
Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Tom Latham and Mitchell Santner are the left-handers that Shami bagged on the day.
Taking on the two left-handers in the top seven for Australia – Travis Head and David Warner – is the possible reason behind the Bengal seamer getting the new ball over Siraj on Sunday. Though he picked Warner early he could not control the seam moment and hence gave away a few extras and let the Aussies get away.
“They panicked a bit. I understand that he [Shami] has dismissed many left-handers and has bowled brilliantly from round the wicket. Travis Head survived against him. You must have noted that Shami bowled a couple of wide balls. I feel Siraj should have bowled 2-3 overs at the start just because of his swing,” Akram added.
On the flip side, in his ICC column, former India star Suresh Raina felt that Pat Cummins’ captaincy was decisive.
“What swung the game in Australia’s favour was Pat Cummins’ captaincy,” Raina wrote. “The way he brought Glenn Maxwell in to the attack to get the wicket of Rohit Sharma with a brilliant catch from Travis Head was very smart. Adam Zampa was great too, as was Cummins himself in dismissing Virat Kohli. They outplayed India and were very solid in their planning.”
Raina praised Head’s match-winning contributions with bat and on the field.
“If you look at Australia’s innings, they were 47 for three, but India couldn’t put the pressure on because they were only defending 241 and then Travis Head played the best knock of the World Cup to change the direction of the game with his positive batting,” the 2011 World Cup-winner added.