R Ashwin reveals Australia’s decision to bowl first in World Cup final

Ravichandran Ashwin

Australian captain Pat Cummins surprised everyone after winning the toss and electing to bowl first in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 against India at Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad. However, the decision worked wonders for his side. They restricted India to just 240 in their allotted 50 overs and went on to chase down the target comfortably. Eventually, Australia won the match by six wickets to clinch their sixth World Cup title.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was a part of India’s World Cup squad, recently revealed his conversation with the Australian chief selector George Bailey. During the innings break Ashwin went to Bailey and asked why they chose to bowl first in the big game. The 37-year-old revealed that the Australians used their IPL experience to read the conditions perfectly in the final.

“I chatted with George Bailey during the mid-innings and asked him why didn’t you guys bat first like you always do. He replied, ‘we have played IPL for many years, toured here for bilateral series. As per our experience in India, red soil disintegrates but black soil becomes better to bat under lights. It is tough [to bat] in red soil under lights, too,” said Ashwin on his YouTube channel.

Further speaking ahead, Ashwin revealed Bailey’s statements and said that they learnt a lot from their loss against South Africa in Lucknow about how the red soil pitch behaves differently from the black soil one.

“In Lucknow against South Africa, the pitch was a red soil one. Under lights, the ball not just seamed but also spun. Even dew does not have much impact on red soil whereas on black soil, the ball turns in the afternoon but becomes patta (flat) like concrete [under lights]. That is our experience’. And I was left in awe of their reading of the conditions,” he added.

Pat Cummins’ nearly 50% of the balls he bowled were cutters: Ashwin

Ashwin was also impressed by Cummins’ bowling plans against Indian batters. He managed to get big scalps of Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer with his cutters.

“Pat Cummins was struggling as an ODI bowler heading into the World Cup. But in the last four or five games leading into the final, nearly 50% of the balls he bowled were cutters. He bowled to a four-five leg-side field like an offspinner, attacking the stump line,” said Ashwin

“He bowled only three balls in the six-meter mark or further up on the pitch in his entire 10-over spell. And he picked up crucial wickets in the final. The five fielders on the on side were square leg, midwicket, mid-on, deep square leg and long leg, and he bowled his ten overs without a mid-off. I have never seen a fast bowler bowl an entire spell to such a spinner-type field in my life, it was a game-breaking spell by Cummins” he added.

With the bat, the Aussies were left reeling at 47/3 after 6.6 overs. However, a scintillating hundred from Head helped their side chase down 241 and secure their sixth World Cup title.