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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

2003 and 2020: A tale of two Indian heartbreaks and Aussie dominations

The manner of India's defeat in the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup final reminded many Indian cricket fans of a similar heartbreak at a World Cup final seventeen years ago - when the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian team fell at the final hurdle.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: March 8, 2020 6:42:20 pm
Shafali Verma reacts after getting out in the T20 World Cup final; India players at the 2003 World Cup presentation ceremony. (Twitter/T20WorldCup, File Photo)

Australia beat India in the Women’s T20 World Cup final by 85 runs at the MCG on Sunday to clinch their fifth title, as the Indian women cricket team’s search for an elusive World Cup crown continued.

The manner of the defeat and the lead-up to the final reminded many Indian cricket fans of a similar heartbreak at a World Cup final seventeen years ago – when the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian team fell at the final hurdle of the ODI World Cup.

Similarities between the 2003 final and the 2020 final

Similar pre-match runs – The Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian team had not lost a single match at the World Cup till their defeat in the final on Sunday. They had beaten Australia in the group stages. The 2003 men’s team had also been on an unbeaten giant-slaying run in the World Cup after one defeat in the league stages – to Australia.

The pre-match build ups had also been similar. In 2003, India had not been tipped to reach the final, especially given their drubbing in New Zealand prior to the tournament. Australia, on the other hand, had gone from strength to strength since their 1999 World Cup victory and were universally acknowledged as the team to beat.

READ | Meet the parents of India’s T20 World Cup heroes

In the Women’s World Cup this year as well, India, who had never reached a T20 World Cup final before, were up against Australia, the most successful team in the tournament’s history.

Australia batting first – Australia batted first in both the heartbreaking finals. In 2003, Sourav Ganguly had won the toss and sent Australia in to bat first. In Sunday’s Women’s T20 World Cup final, Australia elected to bat first on a hard batting surface.

Australian openers getting off to roaring starts – As Beth Mooney (78 off 54 balls) and Alyssa Healy (75 off 39 balls) started the Australian innings on Sunday by plundering runs at more than 10 per over, the nightmarish beginning to the 2003 World Cup final would have flashed through the veteran Indian fan’s mind.

Healy went into blitzkrieg mode in the middle overs on Sunday, as Australia brought up their 100 in the 11th over, without any loss of wickets. In the 2003 final, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden had put the Indian bowlers to the sword, bringing up the team’s 100 without loss of wickets in the 14th over of the innings.

Trusted bowlers leaking runs – In 2003, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan had been two of the best fast bowlers throughtout the World Cup, only to falter in the final. Zaheer had given away 67 runs in 7 overs and Srinath had given away 87 runs in 10 overs.

In Sunday’s final too, India’s strike bowlers had miserable figures to show. Shikha Pandey, the go-to pacer in the side, gave away 52 runs in her 4 overs. Deepti Sharma, who has also been a go-to bowler for Harmanpreet in recent year, also gave away 38 runs in her 4 overs.

Sachin Tendulkar and Shafali Verma – The biggest stars in both Indian top orders were picked up by Australia early on in the innings. In 2003, Tendulkar was out for 4 in the first over of the Indian innings, as Glenn McGrath gave the Aussies a dream start with the ball. Shafali Verma, the top run-getter in the 2020 World Cup, who has consistently fired throughout the tournament, was also out in the very first over of the innings, for a score of 2 runs.

A fighting partnership against the tide – In both the finals, ever since the first ball was bowled, India had always been under pressure. However, there had been partnerships that gave the optimistic fan hope of a turnaround in both the matches.

In the 2003 final, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid had put up a fighting partnership after India lost their top order in the first 10 overs. They took India from 59/3 to 147/4 before Sehwag was run out, rasing hopes of a fight to the finish.

In Sunday’s final, Deepti Sharma dug in for a while after the top order was uprooted cheaply. She built partnerships with Veda Krishnamurthy and Richa Ghosh and looked set to give a final push at the end, before being dismissed for 33 in the 16th over. However, her innings had stopped the collapse, taking the score from 30/4 to 88/5 before she was out.

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