India mourning World Cup loss face Aussies again in T20 series | Crickit
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India mourning World Cup loss face Aussies again in T20 series

By, Mumbai
Nov 22, 2023 09:38 PM IST

Barely four days after the final heartbreak, depleted India face Aussie players who have had to postpone victory celebrations

A billion plus Indian fans are still coming to terms with the heartbreak of Sunday’s ODI World Cup final where the undefeated home team was trumped by Australia. Four days after that low in Ahmedabad, India will again go up against the same rivals, this time in a five-match T20 series.

Indian cricket captain Suryakumar Yadav attends a training session on the eve of the first T20 cricket match between India and Australia in Visakhapatnam, India, Wednesday(AP)
Indian cricket captain Suryakumar Yadav attends a training session on the eve of the first T20 cricket match between India and Australia in Visakhapatnam, India, Wednesday(AP)

Playing each other twice in the World Cup, including their opening game in the league stage, itself came after both the teams had faced each other several times over the last 14 months. Both sides and their fans are likely to battle mental fatigue as well, although the series in the most popular format may help overcome any spectator apathy in the opening game in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

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A breathing space of at least 10 days would have helped Indian fans who were emotionally invested in the spectacular World Cup run for 45 days only to be left dejected. That only two journalists attended the news conference of Suryakumar Yadav, leading the side, in Vizag on Wednesday suggested a distinct lack of interest.

While most of India’s World Cup squad will take a break, the Australia players are more affected by the packed scheduling. Almost half the players from the winning side, including Travis Head, the batting hero of the final and semi-final, are staying back.

A World Cup win deserves a grand public celebration back home, a once in a lifetime chance to soak in the adulation. But Head admitted he will return to Australia only 12 days after the World Cup victory. Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and Steve Smith are also among those who have stayed back for the T20 series.

This begs the question, when finalising the dates, how could the two cricket boards not have considered the prospect of their teams going all the way?

Besides Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Prasidh Krishna from the Cup squad will have to lift their energy levels. Ishan played two games and Prasidh none, but they were with the team since the Asia Cup preparatory camp.

NO HERO’S RETURN FOR HEAD

Save a thought for Head, the player of the final, who will have to refocus on the bilateral series instead of savouring his achievement. Celebrations and farewells are all about timing. It has no value if that moment is lost. You don’t have an open-top bus parade two weeks later, for example.

Head is not as high profile as Smith or Maxwell, and his moments under the sun have been few. Instead of touching down in Australia to a hero’s welcome, he will return only after the series ends on December 3.

The T20 series has also resulted in a low-key return for the rest of the Australia ODI squad. “We've all split off our own different ways, there’s T20s coming up, some guys are on aeroplanes at the moment getting home as well,” wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey told reporters on landing in Adelaide. “It’s probably pretty odd scheduling now that you look at it, to win a World Cup and a few days later you’re playing again.”

The Australia ODI team next plays only in February, against West Indies. According to reports, Cricket Australia has planned a public celebration when the Test squad assembles in Perth on the December 9-10 weekend for the first Test against Pakistan, though Maxwell, Zampa and Inglis may miss that function too as they will be with their Big Bash League teams.

Ultimately cricket is about commerce, but even from the viewers’ point of view, it amounts to overkill. Former England skipper Michael Vaughan, who was in India as an expert during the World Cup, called the T20 series “complete greed and overkill”.

“Why can't we allow players the chance to have a moment’s rest after a WC or whoever wins the chance to celebrate properly for a couple of weeks,” he wrote on X.

The same thing happened to the India players after their 2011 ODI World Cup victory. They had just a six-day break after Cup final on April 2 before IPL started. It gave MS Dhoni’s side hardly any time to savour the win. That was at least franchise cricket, but this is national team duty straightaway.

T20 WORLD CUP BUILD-UP

The series will start the build-up to next year’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA. For India’s young players, it will be an opportunity to impress the selectors against a strong Australia.

The focus will on Surya, who gets his favoured platform after the disappointment in the final. He will lead India for the first time. His Mumbai Indians teammate, Ishan Kishan too has the chance to prove he is an effective T20 bat in international cricket after underwhelming efforts in his last few T20I series. In eight games in 2023, he averages 12.13 at a strike rate of 89.81.

Axar Patel, who missed the World Cup due to a quadriceps strain, is back and will be hungry to prove himself as he competes with Ravindra Jadeja for the spin-bowling all-rounder's spot.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rinku Singh, Tilak Varma, Arshdeep Singh and Ravi Bishnoi have done well in the opportunities they have got. They will have to make their chances count against a strong Australia.

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