ICC Test Championship Final 2023: Another finale of an ICC tournament, another disappointing outcome for Team India, perpetuating the heartbreak of cricket fans. It has been a decade since India last triumphed in an ICC Trophy, and the wait continues as they suffered a crushing defeat against Australia in the WTC Final at The Oval.
In pursuit of a colossal 445 runs for victory, India capitulated for a mere 234 in their final innings, courtesy of exceptional bowling performances from Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland, Pat Cummins, and Mitchell Starc.
Australia outperformed India in all aspects of the game over the course of five days, and we have identified five key reasons why Rohit Sharma’s team struggled to contend with Pat Cummins’s side in the ICC Test Championship Final 2023.
Decision to Field First
Before the match began, The Oval pitch exhibited a light green hue, and the conditions were overcast at the toss, which influenced Rohit Sharma’s decision to field first. India made a promising start with the ball, dismissing Australia’s top three batsmen in the opening hour. However, that was the extent of their success.
India’s approach was short-term in nature, yielding favorable outcomes momentarily before Australia seized control of the game as the sun emerged and the pitch became more batsman-friendly.
Choosing an Extra Seam Bowler Instead of R. Ashwin
India made the bold choice of excluding Ravichandran Ashwin, the team’s highest wicket-taker in this year’s WTC, and instead opted to include an additional seam bowler, Umesh Yadav, who leaked a significant number of runs in the first innings.
Ashwin would have been Rohit’s primary weapon in the latter stages of the Test match, as the pitch began offering turn from the third day onward.
Batting Failures in Both Innings
The primary cause of India’s defeat in the WTC Final was their batting failures in both innings. India failed to even reach the 300-run mark in either innings, on a pitch where the likes of Travis Head and Steve Smith flourished.
Despite having a star-studded lineup consisting of Rohit, Pujara, Gill, and Kohli, none of them managed to score a fifty in either innings. The only positive was Ajinkya Rahane’s return to form, evidenced by his impressive 89 in the first innings.
Fatigue and Lackluster Performance by Bowlers in the First Innings
India exhibited resilience in the second innings with the ball, but their bowlers appeared fatigued and lackluster in the first innings, allowing Australia to amass 469 runs in the initial two days. Siraj, Shami, Shardul, Umesh, and Jadeja were unable to contain the likes of Head, Smith, Alex Carey, and Marnus Labuschagne, as they toiled hard on the field.
Jasprit Bumrah’s Absence
Jasprit Bumrah’s absence was deeply felt by India in the WTC Final, as the talented bowler had been ruled out earlier in the year due to a lingering back injury that has troubled him since September of the previous year. India sorely missed his services, as they once again failed to secure all 20 wickets in an away Test.
Preferential Selection of KS Bharat over Ishan Kishan
Many anticipated that in the absence of Rishabh Pant, Team India would opt for Ishan Kishan as their wicketkeeper for the WTC Final. However, this did not come to pass.
Despite KS Bharat not having amassed significant runs in Test cricket, he was favored over the attacking Kishan, whose fearless stroke play would have been the ideal replacement for Pant.