Millions of Indian fans were looking forward to their team breaking their 10 year ICC trophy jinx, but got the rude shock of a timid defeat at the hands of the Aussies.
TimesofIndia.com ran a poll asking fans three questions to ascertain what they felt was the biggest reason for India’s loss.
The first question was: What was the biggest mistake Team India made?
The options given were:
1. Not playing R Ashwin
2. Bowling first after winning the toss
3. Picking KS Bharat over Ishan Kishan
4175 fans who took the poll cited the exclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin as the reason for India’s defeat.
Off-spinner Ashwin is the world’s top-ranked Test bowler, but with overcast conditions and a green-tinged pitch promising to assist the quicks, India opted for an attack of four seamers and spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. A similar combination helped India defeat England by 157 runs when they last played a Test at The Oval in 2021, when Ashwin was also omitted.
Ashwin’s absence from the XI was defended by coach Rahul Dravid, who said that overcast conditions forced them to pick a fourth specialist seamer, even though the opposition line-up comprised five left-handers.
There was no rain on any of the 5 days and Australia raced to 469 in the first innings, pretty much shutting the door on India. Ashwin has picked up 61 wickets in 13 Tests in the two-year cycle of the second WTC edition and was India’s most successful bowler in that time period.
2184 fans went for the second option: Bowling first after winning the toss.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma won the toss under overcast skies and with a four-pronged pace attack, asked the Aussies to bat first. India even reduced Australia to 76/3 but then the fickle English weather showed its true colours and the sun baked down The Oval pitch to make it easy for batting, the Aussies made merry.
Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121) put up a 285-run stand for the fourth wicket making full use of the wonderful batting conditions, wayward bowling by the Indian bowlers and their wrong plan of bowling bouncers as a stock delivery instead of a surprise weapon.
642 votes were polled for the third option: Picking KS Bharat over Ishan Kishan
Bharat’s glovework was fine behind the stumps and he even took five catches in the match. But with the top order failing again, India desperately needed their lower middle order to fire. And here’s where the void of Rishabh Pant and maybe an attacking batter like Kishan was felt. Bharat was clean bowled by a Scott Boland beauty in the first innings for 5 and fell to Nathan Lyon in the second innings for 23.
Some fans felt that this was the right time for a Test debut for Ishan Kishan who can be an enforcer with the willow, riding on fine knocks in the IPL and limited overs cricket for India.
The second question was: Did IPL fatigue play a big role in the Indian players’ overall performance in the WTC Final?
The options given were:
1. Yes, they looked tired
2. No, someone like Cameron Green also played the IPL and was fine
3. Can’t say
4083 fans voted for the first option saying the Indian players looked tired after a gruelling IPL season that started on March 31 and ended on May 29.
But 2186 fans cited the example of Australian all-rounder Cameron Green saying he also played the IPL and was fine.
763 fans voted for the can’t say option.
The third question was: Should the WTC Final be rescheduled such that it is not played immediately after an IPL season?
The options given here were:
1. Yes, that will help the players go into a WTC Final fresher
2. No, key players should choose to skip a part of the IPL themselves to stay fresh for big ICC events
2831 fans believed that the WTC final should not be played immediately after an IPL season.
4164 votes were polled for the second, more bold option. Fans wanted key players to choose to skip a part of the IPL themselves to stay fresh for big ICC events.
The club vs country debate has reignited once again after this edition of the WTC Final, which saw India falter at the last hurdle again. Fans clearly want players to choose the country over the IPL. But will we ever see a time when the top players choose not to play a part of the IPL to stay fresh?