Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has weighed in on India’s strategy during the 2023 World Cup final against Australia, criticizing the decision to hand the new ball to Mohammed Shami over Mohammed Siraj. Akram suggested that tactically, this move was flawed and showed signs of panic from the Indian camp.
In a closely contested final where India defended a modest total of 240, skipper Rohit Sharma’s decision to opt for Shami with the new ball instead of Siraj raised eyebrows. Shami managed to dismiss David Warner early on but struggled to control the swing and leaked runs, allowing Australia to establish a brisk start in their chase.
Speaking to Sportskeeda, Akram expressed his views on India’s bowling strategy, highlighting that sticking to the proven approach of opening with Siraj might have been more effective.
“They panicked a bit… Shami bowled a couple of wide balls. I feel Siraj should have bowled 2-3 overs at the start just because of his swing,” Akram commented, advocating for Siraj’s initial spell due to his ability to swing the ball effectively.
Akram also highlighted the mental aspect, stating that Shami might not have been mentally prepared for the new ball, having grown accustomed to bowling with a slightly older one.
“Psychologically, Shami knew that he comes first change… Giving him the new ball in the World Cup final, out of the box thinking, I am all for it. But, Siraj should have bowled 2-3 overs at the start,” Akram added.
The final saw Shami finish with figures of 1/47 from seven overs, while Siraj, who also bowled seven overs, claimed 1/45. Despite India’s valiant efforts to defend the target and reducing Australia to 47/3, Travis Head’s remarkable century and Marnus Labuschagne’s resilient half-century steered Australia to victory.
“Travis Head changed the game,” praised Akram, acknowledging Head’s impact in alleviating pressure and steering the chase. Gautam Gambhir, former Indian opener, also highlighted Head’s century and crucial catch that dismissed Rohit Sharma, considering it a pivotal moment in the game.
Head’s spectacular 137 off 120, coupled with Labuschagne’s unbeaten 58 off 110, cemented Australia’s victory as they clinched the World Cup with a six-wicket win in 43 overs.