India, for all its financial clout and hoo-ha around its cricket, lost yet again when it mattered the most, as its underwhelming record in ICC tournaments continued with a 209-run hammering by Australia in the WTC final here on Sunday.
Australian pacer Scott Boland produced a bowling spell of rare quality to get rid of Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over, effectively shutting the door on India, who were bowled out for 234 in their second innings on the final day at The Oval.
Australia were clearly the better team on all fronts while India had only themselves to blame for yet another loss in a global event. India’s last ICC title came way back in 2013 and it was their second successive defeat in the WTC final, having gone down against New Zealand two years ago.
India lost seven wickets for the addition of 70 runs on the final day.
While the non selection of R Aswhin was the big talking point on the opening day, India lost the title contest mainly due to the failure of their high-profile batting line-up.
The top four comprising Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli failed to deliver in the high-stake game.
Chasing a record 444 at The Oval, Indian fans went into day five high on hope with Kohli (49) and Ajinkya Rahane (46) walking into the middle.
However, Boland removing Kohli and Jadeja (0) in the seventh over of the morning pretty much shut the door on India, who resumed the day at 164 for three needing another 280 runs for an improbable win.
Kohli, who had looked in extremely good touch on day four, had to make a big hundred if India had to get anywhere close to the massive target.
On a surface with variable bounce, there was always going to be an odd ball that had your name on it, and that is what happened with both Kohli and Jadeja.
Boland’s relentless pursuit around the off-stump has added an extra dimension to the Australian attack. Bowling from the pavilion end, the seamer pitched one wide and Kohli went for the drive only to be caught by a flying Steve Smith at second slip.
Two balls later, he got one to seam away from round the wicket and Jadeja ended up offering an easy catch to the wicketkeeper, leaving India at 179 for five.
K S Bharat then joined Rahane who played a couple of beautiful straight drives off Mitchell Starc to keep crowd going.
Starc drew his length back soon after and Rahane went hard at a ball that he could have left to be caught behind, sealing his team’s fate. The experienced batter was left tapping his head in frustration knowing he went for the wrong shot.
Shardul Thakur lasted just five balls, lbw off Nathan Lyon, to make it 213 for seven. It seemed the match would last till lunch but the Indian tail made the task easier for the Australians and were bowled out in the extra half hour of play.
Australia 1st Innings: 469 all out; India 1st Innings: 296 all out; Australia 2nd Innings: 270/8 declared
India 2nd Innings (overnight: 164/3): Rohit Sharma lbw Lyon 43 Shubman Gill c Green b Boland 18 Cheteshwar Pujara c Carey b Cummins 27 Virat Kohli c Smith b Boland 49 Ajinkya Rahane c Carey b Starc 46 Ravindra Jadeja c Carey b Boland 0 KS Bharat c&b Lyon 23 Shardul Thakur lbw Lyon 0 Umesh Yadav c Carey b Starc 1 Mohammed Shami not out 13 Mohammed Siraj c Cummins b Lyon 1; Extras: (LB-2, W-6, NB-5) 13
Total: (all out in 63.3 overs) 234
Fall of wickets: 1-41, 2-92, 3-93, 4-179, 5-179, 6-212, 7-213, 8-220, 9-224, 10-234
Australia 2nd Innings bowling: Pat Cummins 13-1-55-1, Scott Boland 16-2-46-3, Mitchell Starc 14-1-77-2, Cameron Green 5-0-13-0, Nathan Lyon 15.3-2-41-4.