The World Test Championship (WTC) final witnessed an intense battle between India and Australia at The Oval, resulting in Australia’s victory by a margin of 209 runs. Following the match, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, often called the “God of Cricket,” expressed his thoughts on where India missed opportunities in the final. Tendulkar highlighted the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s premier spinner, and emphasized the importance of his presence in a match that featured favorable conditions for the pacers and a lineup dominated by left-handed Australian batsmen.
Ashwin, currently ranked as the world’s number one Test bowler, possesses a skill set beyond relying solely on favorable pitch conditions. Known for his ability to adapt to various factors such as wind, pitch bounce, and subtle delivery variations, Ashwin has showcased his mettle consistently throughout the two-year cycle of the WTC. His remarkable record of 61 wickets in 13 Tests during this period demonstrates his impact as a match-winning spinner.
Tendulkar emphasized the significance of a solid first innings performance to remain competitive in the match. Unfortunately, India failed to post a substantial total, ultimately affecting their chances of staging a comeback. The absence of Ashwin in the playing XI was a decision that Tendulkar found hard to digest. He believed that Ashwin’s inclusion could have provided the much-needed breakthroughs and added pressure to the Australian batting lineup, especially given their reliance on several left-handed batters.
Tendulkar underlined that a skilled spinner should not solely depend on pitch conditions to make an impact. Instead, they should leverage other factors, such as wind and variations, in their deliveries. In the context of the WTC final, the presence of five left-handed Australian batters in the top eight highlighted the missed opportunity to exploit their vulnerabilities using Ashwin’s guile.
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Sachin Tendulkar tweeted, “Congratulations to Team Australia on winning the #WTCFinal. @stevesmith49 and @travishead34 set a solid foundation on Day One to tilt the game in their favor. India had to bat big in the first innings to stay in the game, but they couldn’t. There were some good moments for Team India, but I fail to understand the exclusion of @ashwinravi99 in the playing XI, who is currently the number one Test bowler in the world. As I had mentioned before the match, skillful spinners don’t always rely on turning tracks; they use drift in the air and bounce off the surface to disguise their variations. Not to forget, Australia had 5 left-handers out of their top 8 batters.”
Congratulations to Team Australia on winning the #WTCFinal. @stevesmith49 and @travishead34 set a solid foundation on Day one itself to tilt the game in their favour. India had to bat big in the first innings to stay in the game, but they couldn’t. There were some good moments…— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 11, 2023
India’s loss in the WTC final serves as a learning opportunity for the team. While hindsight is always 20/20, adaptability and strategic decision-making in team selection should not be overlooked. The omission of Ashwin from the WTC Final, after his exceptional record and ability to exploit the weaknesses of left-handed batters, might have tilted the balance in India’s favor.