There were talks in the corridors of the cricketing world that maybe this Indian squad is one of the greatest of all time. The Men in Blue dominated throughout the tournament but lost the plot when it mattered the most. Yet, they gave cricketing fans several moments to cherish.
Whereas, the Australians were simply amazing on the night of the finals, at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad on Sunday. The Kangaroos may have started slow in the tournament but picked up things at the opportune time.
At the pre-match press conference, when skipper Pat Cummins was asked about the big, loud Indian crowd at the finals, he replied, “In sports, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow.”
They did as he said, first they dominated with the ball and then finished things off in style with the bat. Not to forget the tight fielding they had put in place, plus they bowled just 12 extras as compared to India’s 18.
Captain Pat Cummins won the toss and to the disbelief of many chose to bowl first. The Indians fans were giddy about the prospects of India batting first and putting up a grand total to put the Aussies under pressure.
But Cummins must have seen something that aficionados and experts missed. Cummins was also spotted doing a thorough assessment of the pitch a day before and even clicked pictures of the same.
The First Innings
Indian skipper and opener Rohit Sharma (47 in 31b, 4×4, 3×6) blasted through the Australian quicks and gave India a solid start. He played his natural aggressive game but got caught by Travis Head on the bowling of Glenn Maxwell.
The field placements by Captain Cummins were spot on. Subman Gill (4 in 7b) was the first man to get caught out followed by Sharma and Shreyas Iyer (4 in 3b).
Virat Kohli was welcomed by the crowd with loud cheers. Kohli (54 in 63b, 4×4) took a calculated approach and steadily piled on some crucial runs. He was starting to get in his flow after his half-century but the Australian skipper Pat Cummins (10-0-34-2) caught him off guard and bowled him out. Cummins had a great day out as he displayed his quality by bowling at the right lengths.
Kohli was assisted by KL Rahul (66 in 107b) to build a 4th wicket partnership to do some much-needed repair work. But Rahul simply couldn’t find his zone and appeared cornered by the vicious Australian bowling attack. He ate a lot of balls before finally getting out in the forty-second over. Kohli and Rahul managed to score just one four in their 97-ball partnership.
After this, the Indian batting lineup went into a tailspin and crashed and burned spectacularly. Fans pinned their hopes on Suryakumar Yadav (18 in 28b), who has been dormant throughout the tournament and expectedly even he couldn’t find his rhythm.
India were bundled out for a below-par score of 240 runs in 50 overs.
The Second Innings
The Australians started off all guns blazing and scored with a run rate of about 10 runs per over. But to the relief of the Indian fans Md. Shami (7-1-47-1) got the first breakthrough in the second over to get David Warner out(7 in 3b).
But the southpaw Travis Head teamed up with Marnus Labuschagne after the wickets of Mitchel Marsh (15 in 15b) and Steve Smith (4 in 9b) in the first powerplay to make their team tread the path of glory. Both wickets were scalped by Jasprit Bumrah (9-2-43-2).
But Head (137 in 120b, 15×4, 4×6) and Labuschagne (58 in 110b, 4×4) gave the Men in Blue no chance and blasted through the Indian defences to put up a 4th wicket stand of 192 runs. Head hit a glorious hundred before getting caught in the 43rd over. Interestingly, Head hit 15 fours, which is more than that of the whole Indian team combined.
Labuschagne played anchor and supported the hard-hitting Head. In the end, Glenn Maxwell came in and finished things off for his team, as the Kangaroos ran in to celebrate.
Australia won by 6 wickets with 42 deliveries to spare.
This was Australia’s sixth ODI World Cup win. It has been a dream run for the Aussies as this crown comes after they won the World Test Championship against India earlier this year. In that match too, Travis Head was named the Player of the Match.
Player of the Match
Travis Head was named Player of the Match for his dominating hundred.
Player of the Tournament
Virat Kohli was named Player of the Tournament for scoring a gargantuan 765 runs in just 11 innings. Currently, he is the highest run-scorer in a single edition of the World Cup cricket, a feat he achieved by overtaking his idol and legend Sachin Tendulkar (673 runs).
The Road Ahead
India must be really very disappointed as they crashed and burned at the penultimate moment. India tours South Africa in their next outing for a bilateral series starting December 10.
It is a crushing defeat for India. Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli must be particularly distraught as it is possibly their last World Cup.
Meanwhile, It’s party time for Australia. They have won it all, the T20 World Cup (2021), the World Test Championship (2021-23), and cricket’s marquee tournament, the ODI World Cup (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015 and 2023)!
The Aussies will face Pakistan next in an upcoming bilateral series, as the latter tours Australia in December.