The start to the Australian chase of 241 in the World Cup 2023 final against India was frenetic as there were missed opportunities, big wickets and an adrenaline-pumping celebration from the Indian pacers. The atmosphere at the Narendra Modi Stadium was electric as the floodlights took charge after India had posted 240 on the board in their quota of 0 overs.
Travis Head and David Warner silenced the crowd with their aggressive onslaught as they put Jasprit Bumrah on the backfoot in the very first over, hitting the lead pacer for 15 runs. However, India bounced back as Mohammed Shami got David Warner out for 7 in the very first delivery of his spell in the World Cup final, extending his wickets tally to 24.
Shami got the crowd roaring again as nearly 1,30,000 Indian fans at the stand got behind the Indian pacers. Bumrah quickly put behind the first over and charged in with a fiery attitude, helped by Virat Kohli who was egging on the fast bowlers.
Bumrah’s perseverance paid off as he got the big wicket of Mitchell Marsh in the 5th over. Travis Head was looking solid but Australia lost Marsh, who was looking to put the pressure back on the Indian bowlers.
In the 7th over of the chase, Bumrah brought out his secret weapon, one that he often uses to catch opposition batters off-guard. At a time when he and Shami were hurdling deliveries at over 140, an off-cutter came to catch Smith by surprise.
The off-cutter, which would have made R Ashwin proud, from Bumrah turned and hit Steve Smith on the pads. Bumrah went up in a huge roar, appealing for LBW and the on-field umpire gave it out.
It looked close to the naked eye and Steve Smith, after a long deliberation, in the middle decided to not review it as Australia slipped to 47 for 3 in the 7th over.
However, replays suggested that the ball had hit Smith outside the line of the off-stump, meaning the third umpire would have reversed the on-field umpire’s decision had the Australian star had taken a review.
Smith’s decision to not take the review baffled the cricket fraternity as the star batter did not use one up on such a huge occasion.
On-air commentator Dinesh Karthik pointed out that Smith would have taken the review had it been a Test match, considering the importance of his wicket.
However, on a pitch where batters were not able to score freely, Smith was a crucial wicket despite his lean patch in the World Cup.
Australia recovered from the early jolts through a 50-plus stand between Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne for the 4th wicket.
Earlier in the day, KL Rahul hit 66 and Virat Kohli 54 but none of the Indian batters, barring Rohit Sharma, were fluent on a tricky pitch in the final.
First appeared on www.indiatoday.in