Adam Gilchrist said Australia would have batted first    Getty Images
Adam Gilchrist said Australia would have batted first Getty Images

New Delhi: Virat Kohli was not wrong in his decision to bowl first on a flat track but Adam Gilchrist, a member of the all-conquering Australian team, feels opting to bat was the way to go in a big game like the Champions Trophy final. Gilchrist could only watch the toss of the final yesterday as he was flying in to New Delhi this morning but said the great Australian team of yesteryears would have preferred batting first. Pakistan outplayed India by 180 runs to win their maiden title. The Indian bowlers struggled before the high profile batting crumbled under pressure while chasing 338 for four. Full cricket scorecard: India vs Pakistan, Final at The Oval

“Just before I flew out of Perth yesterday, I saw the toss happening. Mine and Australian team’s natural inclination is to bat first and try and get the score board pressure going,” said Gilchrist, who is also Australia’s education ambassador to India. “Having said that, if most of the games are won while chasing, like it happened in this tournament, you can’t really criticise the decision to bowl,” he said referring to the tournament trend which saw chasing teams winning 9 of the 15 matches.

“India are very comfortable chasing and have done well chasing. You cannot criticise them for that decision. The century maker (Fakhar Zaman) was caught off a no ball, else it could have been a different game,” said the former wicketkeeper-batsman.

Gilchrist said the way Pakistan played, there wasn’t much fault to be found with India.

“Pakistan played what seems to be a perfect game of cricket. India, after a very impressive tournament, just got caught out on the big final day. That can happen. We, as an Australian team, used to focus on building up to be ready to be the best in the final. India have proven themselves by winning all the major ICC trophies. So I don’t think there is any issue with India in the big games. This Indian team is a very good team, very competitive and did well to reach the final. They just came up against a Pakistani side which almost played a perfect one off game,” said the southpaw.

Gilchrist was happy for Pakistan, a country that has not hosted a full international series since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in Lahore in 2009.

“Deep in your heart, as a cricket lover you can’t be disappointed to see a nation like that. We all know their struggles of not getting any international cricket back home. They are basically a nomadic team which plays abroad. Perhaps because of that they were able to adjust well in those conditions. As they said, the only predictable thing about Pakistan cricket is that they are unpredictable. We shouldn’t be surprised by what happened. It is like the West Indies winning World T20 despite their issues with the cricket board. It is certainly a positive story for cricket,” said Gilchrist.

Talking about the ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players, Gilchrist hoped the two parties will soon reach an agreement.

“The CA, the players association and myself hope that it doesn’t get any longer. We have about 11 days to sort it out before the contract expires. I am sure they are working tireless to sort that out. It is admirable that players are sticking together. I think it would take a bit of compromise from both sides to reach an agreement. That is normal in any negotiations. I believe CA has taken a very good care of the players in the last 20 years but perhaps they have not articulated exactly why they need the change in the structure. It seems players are not convinced and they don’t want it to change,” he said.

Gilchrist backed Australian captain Steve Smith despite his team’s early exit in the Champions Trophy. He also called for more relevance in staging international tournaments irrespective of the format.

“I do believe there is room for all three formats. Just got to be careful that you have relevance (for all of them). Not a lot of Australians knew what was going on (in England which host Champions Trophy), why it was being played. I am sure everyone in India knew it was on. The greatest requirement and issue administrators face is giving matches relevance so supporters want to be engaged. They are aware of that. They are working out a Test Championship. I would says just don’t put something up for the sake of it,” he added.