Dharamsala, Oct 28 (PTI) On the eve of their World Cup match against New Zealand at a venue whose outfield has been in focus, Australian skipper Pat Cummins had hoped his teammates would be cautious while fielding.
But, as their Trans-Tasman rivals closed in on an imposing target of 389 here on Saturday, the Australians, especially Marnus Labuschagne in the last over, fielded as if lives depended on it.
On the day, Cummins wouldn't mind his colleagues diving around, for without their effort on the field, the Australians wouldn't have prevailed by five runs in a cliffhanger and continue their winning run in the tournament.
"Fielding made a big difference. Marnus out there, throwing himself around at the end. Not the easiest fielding grounds here but the boys threw themselves around," Cummins said at the presentation ceremony.
In the last couple of weeks, Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott and England skipper Jos Buttler had expressed their concerns with the outfield here.
Meanwhile, Cummins added, "We have a few days' break. Will enjoy this one and then get stuck in." Travis Head's blazing hundred helped Australia negate a marvellous century by Rachin Ravindra to register a thrilling victory.
On the game in general, Cummins said, "That was awesome. Sometimes I have to remember I was on the field. They kept coming at us. It was fantastic." Asked about the opening partnership between World Cup debutant Head and in-form David Warner, the Australian captain said, "I loved that, especially from Trav, who has been away. That is how we want to play, take the game on and they led the way." Speaking about bowling, Cummins said, "It was a good wicket. I thought, in patches, we bowled really well. Other times, we gave too much width away. Some really good partnerships that were tough to get into." New Zealand needed 19 off the final over but fell short in the end of a terrific game which saw James Neesham nearly puling off a heist of sorts after Ravindra's effort.
"Fantastic game of cricket. Ebbs and flows throughout. To come so close, obviously it hurts. They played fantastically well and put us on the back foot from the start," Kiwi captain Tom Latham said.
New Zealand's Glenn Phillips did an admirable job with the ball, ending with figures of 3/37 as his colleagues were taken to the cleaners, and Latham was full of praise for him.
"He bowled fantastically to come and bowl 10 overs for 30 and take three wickets, at crucial times. To bowl his full 10 from one end was great and his work is paying off," said Latham.
When asked about the run chase, he said, "When you are chasing close to 400, you have to play the perfect game. Young and Dev (Conway) got us off to a good start. Rachin played an extraordinary knock - one of the better knocks you will see." Player of the Match Head said he barely practised heading into this game.
"Nice to be back, nice to be contributing. Very close (game) in the end. Was a hell of a game.
"Only had a couple of hits. Little bit like the WTC, where I had a few weeks off. Have a few bruises that I can definitely strap up over the next couple of days," Head said. PTI AH AH KHS KHS