Suresh Raina column: Pat Cummins’ captaincy made the difference

Mohammed Shami was my Player of the Tournament. The way he bowled throughout the whole World Cup, he just went bang, bang, bang, writes Suresh Raina

Australia skipper Pat Cummins with the World Cup trophy on the banks of the Sabarmati River on Monday (photo: @ICC/X)
Australia skipper Pat Cummins with the World Cup trophy on the banks of the Sabarmati River on Monday (photo: @ICC/X)

Suresh Raina

From an Indian perspective, the ICC World Cup final was disappointing, but that’s what cricket is all about. Australia played better than India, you can’t complain about that. It was just one bad day at the office. 

Australia won the toss, and they knew that dew would be the key factor. They restricted India to 240 and chased really well. What swung the game in Australia’s favour was Pat Cummins’ captaincy. The way he brought Glenn Maxwell into the attack to get the wicket of Rohit Sharma with a brilliant catch from Travis Head was very smart. Adam Zampa was great too, as was Cummins himself in dismissing Virat Kohli. They outplayed India and were very solid in their planning.  

Another big factor was Australia’s fielding. I think they saved 30 to 40 runs. From ball one, they were saving a lot of singles and boundaries. There was Travis’s catch and some excellent work in the deep from David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne. 

I think Cummins showed real temperament in his captaincy. He changed his bowlers knowing he could put pressure on each India batter even though they were all in such good form. His tactics made all the difference and his planning and execution were perfect. 

If you look at Australia’s innings, they were 47 for three, but India couldn’t put the pressure on because they were only defending 241 and then Head played the best knock of the World Cup to change the direction of the game with his positive batting. 

India looked very good from a bowling point of view, but were left disappointed because they didn’t understand the wicket.  It was very dry, and they couldn’t keep pressure on with the bat because Australia bowled a lot of short balls and deliveries into the wicket — which meant India couldn’t rotate the strike. Rohit’s wicket was a turning point and there were not enough runs on the board, especially when you’re used to making totals of up to 400.  

Credit goes to Travis and Marnus, the way they played when the pressure started to come back onto Australia showed they know how to win an ICC trophy.  

India's Mohammed Shami is the third-highest wicket-taker in World Cup history (photo: @MdShami11/X)
India's Mohammed Shami is the third-highest wicket-taker in World Cup history (photo: @MdShami11/X)

Reflecting on the entire World Cup, I think it was played in a great spirit. We saw lots of runs and wickets to both seam and spin.  

Afghanistan and the Netherlands both really impressed me, and New Zealand did well too. We saw a lot of great individual performances from Bas de Leede and Paul van Meekeren of the Netherlands, to Rachin Ravindra of New Zealand and Mohammad Wasim of Pakistan, who looked very promising.  

From an Indian perspective, I was very impressed with KL Rahul, but Mohammed Shami was my player of the tournament. The way he bowled against New Zealand and throughout the whole World Cup, he just went bang, bang, bang. 

I thought Rohit Sharma’s captaincy was fantastic too. He looked very solid in his planning, decision making, approach and execution. He looked like a proper leader.  

Like MS Dhoni before him, he brought a team together and they played excellently. I don’t know if Rohit will play the next 50-over World Cup, he might play the T20 World Cup, but he really wanted to win the World Cup for the whole country. But God planned something else. 

It’s very disappointing because they did so well in every department before the final.  

There were still some great moments, not least Virat scoring his 50th century in front of his idol, Sachin Tendulkar. We will see the Indian team doing well again because they know how to reach the latter stages of tournaments now. It just takes a bit of time to understand how to manage those pressure situations, especially when you’re at home.  

Sometimes when there’s a lot of pressure you can lose your focus — and I think that’s a lesson they will learn from this. 

In four years’, time, all eyes will be on hosts South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, and it will be great to see new teams come through like we’ve seen with Afghanistan in recent years. It might be Ireland or another team from Europe who really steps up, or perhaps one of the Asia Cup teams like Nepal. It will be exciting to see 14 teams and how it all shapes up. 

Suresh Raina was a member of India’s 2011 World Cup winning squad and one of India’s white ball batters. Column courtesy: International Cricket Council

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