November 29, 2023

Despite being the best team in the tournament, India suffered an embarrassing defeat to Australia in the final of the Cricket World Cup 2023 on Sunday. The Aussies completely outplayed the hosts, be it in bowling, batting, or fielding, with Tavis Head’s ton sealing the team’s fate in history. As pundits reflect on what went wrong for India in the title battle, former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik was quick to point a finger at KL Rahul. The wicket-keeper batter’s poor strike rate in the middle-order, as per Malik, cost India the game.

“KL Rahul was just trying to bat through the 50 overs. He should not have done that and should have tried to play his game. If you’re batting in tough conditions and the boundaries aren’t coming easily, then at least you’ve got to rotate strike. That wasn’t happening, there were a lot of dot balls,” Shoaib Malik in a chat on A Sports.

“He has been taking a lot of responsibility when India lose quick wickets up front. If you will see his today’s innings 66 off 107 balls, it was not a KL Rahul innings. He went into a zone, where he only wanted to play the whole fifty overs. He should have been a little more proactive,” he added.

While there’s no denying that batting first wasn’t as easy on the Narendra Modi Stadium track, when compared to batting second, Malik feels the Australians managed to assess the conditions better than the Indians did.

“The venue in which this match was played had long side boundaries. The Australian utilised these boundaries very well. They said we won’t let you hit us down the ground and you can hit us square of the wicket. Their bowlers used variations very well. The Australians assessed the Indian conditions better than the Indians and then executed their plans,” Malik further asserted.

“KL Plays spin very well and we have seen it throughout the tournament. He plays well square of the wicket, front of the wicket, uses his feet really well. But today his approach was that he was waiting. He maybe was not trusting the other batters. He was thinking about getting team to 250 and it got difficult,” said Misbah-ul-Haq, on the show.

With the defeat, India’s hunt for an ICC title remains unresolved. For the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, and a few other players this probably was the last opportunity to help the country bag its third ODI World Cup title.

The team now goes back to the drawing board, with the aim of crafting a better strategy for the future.

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