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World Test Championship 2021/23

‘What is the point here?’ – Matthew Hayden criticises Australia’s spread-field tactics during Rahane-Thakur stand | IND vs AUS

Hayden criticises Australia's tactics during Rahane Shardul partnership
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Matthew Hayden has come down hard on the spread-field tactics Australia used during the counter-attacking partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur on Day 3 of the IND vs AUS World Test Championship Final at The Kia Oval.

After being in a dominant position early on Day 3 of the WTC Final, Australia squandered a bit of the advantage as they let Rahane and Thakur stitch a 109-run partnership for the seventh wicket. While India were still bowled out for 296, 173 runs behind Australia’s first innings score of 469, the partnership allowed India to stay in the game and have an outside chance of making a comeback.

Rahane and Thakur both took the attack to the Australian bowlers, even as they were getting hit on the body, catches were being dropped, and wickets were falling on No-Balls. Pat Cummins was understandably frustrated as he had given lives to both of the batters, dismissing them off what turned out to be No-Balls on review.


Once the partnership was well set, Cummins decided to open the fields, allowing Rahane easy singles in an attempt to get to bowl to Thakur more often. This strategy was met with surprise in the commentary box where Nasser Hussain, Matthew Hayden, and Kumar Sangakkara were present.

Nasser floated the question to Hayden, asking what he made of the field. “Field is spread. That is a debate and a talking point. Throughout this partnership, there have been easy singles on offer. What do you make of the field?” asked Nasser, to which Hayden replied that it was beyond his understanding.

“I just don’t like it at all Nass. And I don’t understand it either. It’s not like you’ve got a tailender in Thakur at the other end. Why not make it as hard as you possibly can?” said Hayden. He went on to say that it was a modern trend but would have preferred if the bowlers got to bowl to one batter and build pressure instead.

“I mean, it’s sort of modern thinking in many ways from a captaincy point of view, but I just think that…wicket’s doing plenty, just support your bowler (so that) he can bowl just to one person, back to back maidens,” said Hayden.

Sangakkara was also baffled by the field placements. “Two hundred and nine behind [209 runs trail], and the field is spread!” he exclaimed.

Hayden, clearly not amused with Australia’s defensive tactics, asked the question back to Nasser and Sangakkara in an attempt to make sense of what was happening.

“You fellas were both great captains. Give me one reason why this field is going to make a difference to this bowling effort. What is the point here?” asked Hayden.

“Yeah its obvious what the plan is. They are trying to bowl more at Thakur than Rahane. They see him as a tailender, but he’s got 36 and he’s got runs on this ground. He’s a little bit better than a tailender,” said Nasser in response.

Luckily for Australia, Cameron Green took a blinder of a catch at gully to dismiss Rahane in the over just after this conversation took place. Thakur got a few more runs as he reached his third consecutive fifty at the Kia Oval, but couldn’t hang on for much longer as India folded for 296.

To bet on the World Test Championship final with our Match Centre partners bet365, head here.

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