If there was one turning point in the World Cup 2023 final that put paid to India’s chances, it was Rohit Sharma’s dismissal. Before his wicket, India were cruising, scoring at almost nine runs an over and had blazed away, as usual, to 76/2 in 9.4 overs. But the moment Rohit was out to that brilliant piece of catching from Travis Head, it was as if the wheels just fell off. From smashing eight fours and three sixes in the first 10 overs, to just four across the next 40, India simply never recovered, and eventually paid the price.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has made an interesting point about Rohit’s dismissal. The India captain, facing the second over from Glenn Maxwell had already launched him for a six and a four off the previous two balls, making it a 10-run over with three balls to go, and Gavaskar feels he could have done without taking any further risks. The wicket spells doom and India ended up with just 240, a target which Australia gunned down with Head adding to the home team’s woes by blasting a cracking century as the Aussies cantered home by six wickets and 7 overs left.
“Travis Head’s superlative turning and running back catch dashed India’s hopes of getting a 300-plus score. That catch dismissed Rohit Sharma, who once again stormed his way to another quickfire 40-plus. That wicket fell in the final over of the first Powerplay where there are only two fielders allowed outside the 30-metre circle. He had already hit a six and a four in the over and was obviously trying to capitalise on the few deliveries left before the Powerplay finished. Was he being too greedy? Could he not have curbed himself since Shubman Gill had already been dismissed?”, Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar.
But that’s how Rohit has played the entire tournament. The knock of 47 off 31 balls was his fifth dismissal in the 40s, which indicates his role throughout the World Cup has been of an aggressor, an enforcer. That the rest of the Indian batter slowed down is on them, even as Virat Kohli and KL Rahul did their best with half-centuries before eventually shutting shop. Australia read the conditions brilliantly, using the slowness of the surface and squeezing 10 overs between Head, Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh. Had it not been for Rohit’s dismissal, who knows… maybe India could have out on a bit more. Another 30 runs, and it could well have made the difference in India’s confidence and the outcome as a whole.
“The fifth bowler’s quota for Australia was always a bit of a lottery, and this time, it worked as it not only got the crucial wicket of the Indian captain but also made the other India batters play the non-regular bowlers even more carefully, and thereby lose out on perhaps 30 runs at least. Whether those runs would have made the difference is debatable,” Gavaskar pointed out.