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Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid accused of ‘doctoring’ India-Australia World Cup final pitch: ‘They came in evening and…’

Rohit Sharma’s Team India faced a heartbreak in the final of the 2023 World Cup final, as the side endured a six-wicket loss in Ahmedabad

November 19: A day etched in the collective memory of Indian cricket fans as a moment of colossal heartbreak and a missed opportunity. It was on this day when a billion dreams were crushed at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad as a Rohit Sharma-led side faced a rather one-sided defeat at the hands of Australia in the ODI World Cup Final. Leading up to this moment, India had been unstoppable, riding a glorious ten-match winning streak. For a team yearning to break the ICC title drought since 2013, this match held the promise of redemption, a chance to seize glory again on a global scale. Yet, fate had a cruel twist in store, as the very team against which their streak began would later bring their downfall in the most bitter fashion. For Rohit and his teammates, it was a crushing end to a journey fueled by dreams of lifting the World Cup.

India’s head coach Rahul Dravid with skipper Rohit Sharma after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 final(PTI)

As Pat Cummins elected to bowl first, the optimism soared among Indian supporters upon hearing Rohit’s assertion, “I would have batted first.” Yet, as the day unfolded, the harsh reality set in, unravelling just why the Australian captain had chosen to defy the convention of batting first in a high-pressure match.

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Amidst a slow wicket, the Aussie bowlers proved formidable, stifling the hosts and limiting them to a mere 240 runs. As evening descended, the conditions seemed more favourable for batting, amplifying the anguish as Australia effortlessly chased down the target, fueled by Travis Head’s sublime 137.

In the following days, there was a significant chatter over the nature of the pitch in the World Cup final. Many believed the slowness of the pitch was one of the major reasons behind India’s debacle, as the side had registered brilliant wins on competitive wickets throughout their World Cup campaign. Earlier this week, however, former India batter Mohammed Kaif, who was part of the broadcasting team in the tournament, made an interesting revelation on Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid’s alleged role in the pitch’s preparation for the marquee final clash.

Kaif claimed that the star duo would visit the pitch on all three days leading up to the World Cup final, and that he saw the “colour” of the pitch continuing to change.

“I was there for three days, did a lot of shows. Rohit Sharma came in the evening with Dravid, went to the pitch, stood there for an hour and went back. They came again on the second day, and did the same thing. This went on for three days, and I saw the colour of that pitch change. I wore a blue shirt today, it would look yellow three days later… that was the extent of that change,” Kaif revealed on Guest in the Newsroom on TheLallanTop.

“No watering, no grass. It became a very slow pitch. This is the truth. There were Cummins and Starc, they bowled quick, and the thought was to give them a slow pitch, and they did make a mistake there. People say ‘curator did his job, we didn’t say anything’. Sab bakvaas hai (It’s all rubbish). You were roaming there, you are talking to him 100. ‘Ghaas kam karo, paani kam daalna,” do line hi toh bolni hain (Don’t use too much grass, don’t water it. You just have to say two lines). And there’s nothing wrong in that, you are the home team, take advantage. But we didn’t use it properly,” said the former India batter.

Cummins learned from Chennai clash

Kaif believes the Australian captain had learned from the side’s defeat in Chennai against India during their World Cup opener. Australia had batted first in that game, but were bowled out for merely 199. India chased down the target with over eight overs to spare.

“Cummins had the learning from the first match against India in Chennai. He had won the toss and batted first, and India won the game easily in the run-chase. In the final, teams usually don’t opt for fielding. We did that in 2003 and we lost. But Cummins learned from that and chased, irrespective of the occasion,” said Kaif.

“If it was a normal pitch… the form that Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav were in.. they were in great touch! If we had a flat pitch, 100% we would have won. Ham wicket me doctoring karne ke chakkar me phas gaye (We doctored the wicket, and that led to our loss),” concluded Kaif.


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