Kohli’s shot selection cost India in WTC final: Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar and Virat Kohli, with the text "Kohli's shot selection cost India in WTC final

NEW DELHI: Sunil Gavaskar, renowned former cricketer and commentator, didn’t hold back his criticism towards the Indian players on Sunday, specifically directing his ire towards Virat Kohli, following their feeble performance in the highly anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia. Gavaskar expressed his disappointment, labeling the Indian batting display as “ridiculous.”

In a game largely controlled by the Australian team, they sealed a comprehensive 209-run victory over India on the fifth and final day at The Oval. The result left Gavaskar fuming, as he directed his frustration towards the Indian players for their lackluster performance throughout the match, with a special mention of Virat Kohli.

“The batting was shambles today. It was just ridiculous what we saw today. Especially the shot making. We saw some ordinary shots yesterday from (Cheteshwar) Pujara, somebody you never expect to play that shot. Maybe somebody has gone into his head and said ‘strike rate, strike rate.’ You have not even lasted a session. Eight wickets have not lasted a session? Come on,” Gavaskar expressed to broadcaster Star Sports.

The disappointing result in the WTC final only added to India’s underwhelming record in ICC tournaments. Australian pacer Scott Boland played a pivotal role, producing a bowling spell of rare quality to dismiss both Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over, effectively shutting the door on India’s hopes. On the final day, India was bowled out for 234 runs in their second innings at The Oval.

Gavaskar highlighted that Indian batters erred persistently around their personal landmarks, pointing out a recurring pattern. Speaking about Kohli’s dismissal, Gavaskar stated, “It was a pretty ordinary shot. Outside the off stump. He was leaving till then. Maybe he was conscious that he needed one run to reach his half-century. It happens when you are nearing a milestone. It happened to Jadeja. He played a delivery he shouldn’t have when he was (on) 48. It happened to Ajinkya Rahane, who was on 46. He hadn’t played that shot all this while. Suddenly, why do you play that shot? Because you are aware of that landmark.”

Kohli, who made 49 off 78 balls, was the first Indian to get out on the final day, falling victim to Boland’s wide delivery that tempted him into a drive. Criticizing Kohli for his shot selection, Gavaskar emphasized, “It was a bad shot. You should ask Kohli what shot he played. He talks so much about how to win a match; you need a long innings. How are you going to do that if you play a ball so far outside the off stump?”

Virat Kohli, with the text "Kohli's shot selection cost India in WTC final

This defeat marked India’s second consecutive loss in successive WTC finals, having previously lost to New Zealand in the inaugural edition in 2021. With a daunting target of 444 runs, India started the final day at 164 for three. However, they lost key batsmen, including Kohli, Jadeja, and Rahane, resulting in their eventual collapse and being bowled out for 234 runs in 63.3 overs, losing seven wickets for a mere 70 runs.

The disappointing performance in the WTC final has sparked discussions and raised questions about the Indian team’s approach and preparation in high-pressure matches. It remains to be seen how the team will regroup and address the concerns highlighted by Gavaskar and other critics as they look ahead to future tournaments.

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