Mohammad Azharuddin, who led India in three World Cups, said New Zealand were let down by a strange set of rules in the final of the World Cup against England at Lord’s.

“It is sad that a match, that too a final, was decided by this strange rule. It was a tight match, but then somebody had to win with this rule and England were lucky on that day,’’ said Azharuddin while speaking to #KhabarLive in an informal chat in Hyderabad.

The former Indian skipper advocated some changes to the rules. “It is history now England have become world champions and how much ever we can talk, we can’t change it. It was a very strange rule but rules were there for all. If England had met the same fate of New Zealand, then they could have faced the same result.

“But what I fail to understand is that team winning on a number of boundaries. Some team can score more boundaries and some less. That should not be the criteria.”

Azharuddin felt that the ICC Committee has to modify the rules a little bit as this has not gone down well among the teams. “It could be decided in this way too, if the match had ended in a tie, the team losing less number of wickets should have been declared a winner because if you have super over, it is difficult to decide the winner then also.

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It is a gamble. If the team plays so well and suddenly one team lose in Super Over, it is heart-breaking. For instance in this final, New Zealand made 241 for 8 while England were all out for 241. New Zealand lost less number of wickets and they should have been declared winners if the rule was different. This is all in hindsight. Everyone can be wise after the event,’’ he added.

The former stylish batsman was all praise for New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. “The greatness of Williamson is that he never lost his cool. He was calm and composed. I liked the way he conducted himself during that tight situation. He was a perfect example for any young cricketer. Even at the presentation or media conference, Williamson was magnanimous. That shows the true character of a cricketer.

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“New Zealand have always been quiet cricketers. But Williamson was outstanding with his captaincy and batting. New Zealand came out fighting to end up runners-up. I liked the way they fought back after they lost their last three league matches before upsetting India in the semifinals.

They are a very good team but bowling was their biggest strength. We should also give due credit to England. They had played a very good brand of cricket. They were aggressive and positive. Ben Strokes was outstanding.’’

Azharuddin said India had the best chance but ended up losing in semifinals. “We had one bad game. However, the team depended too much on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. In the semifinals, once these two batsmen and KL Rahul fell, India collapsed. The middle order proved to be the Achilles heel. Mahendra Singh Dhoni played in bits and pieces. We needed someone in the middle order who could have taken control of the match.

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“Unfortunately, we didn’t have players to rise to the occasion. May be players like (Ajinkya) Rahane, who is already playing in England, could have made the difference. He has the technique and the ability to play a tight game. I would say New Zealand played very well in the semifinals, particularly on the second day of the rain-interrupted match.

If the match had been completed on the first day, it would have been a different story. Unfortunately, the match went for the second day. The New Zealand had time to think and regroup to come back strongly in the match.’’

The 56-year-old Azharuddin, however, said the omission of Mohammad Shami was baffling. “I still fail to understand why Mohammad Shami, who is the highest wicket-taker, did not play. The conditions were ideal for a bowler like Shami. He is a wicket-taking bowler and in this game, he could have made a big difference to the team. It is baffling unless he is unfit.” #KhabarLive


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