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A Billion Heartbreaks! Australia Beat India in World Cup Final to Lift Sixth Title

Written By: Sahil Malhotra


Last Updated: November 19, 2023, 22:51 IST

Ahmedabad, India

Australia beat India to win a record sixth World Cup title (AP Photo)

Australia beat India to win a record sixth World Cup title (AP Photo)

With a comprehensive six-wicket win in the final, Australia break Indian hearts to add a sixth World Cup title to their cabinet.

Glenn Maxwell with the winning runs and Australia lift the World Cup title for the sixth time. Pat Cummins and Co. rushed out to the park after Maxwell completed the double and celebrated their title triumph in front of 92,453 fans. It would have been fitting had Travis Head (137), man of the moment and final, scored the winning runs but he was dismissed agonisingly close to the finish line.

There were contrasting scenes at the Narendra Modi Stadium as Australia celebrated and India, who have been invincible in the tournament, walked off with their head and shoulders down. Mohammed Siraj broke down and was consoled by Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul was down on his knees, and Virat Kohli was in a state of shock as Rohit Sharma & Co, who were unbeaten before this game, extended their wait for an ICC title.

At the halfway mark, numerous questions popped up: Do India have enough? Will the pitch ease out under the lights? Will India’s spinners extract purchase? How much of a role will dew play? And most importantly how to keep Australia’s top three – David Warner, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh – quiet and not run away in the 241-run chase. The first ten overs were going to be too small a sample size to answer the first few questions but the last, and the most important one, was answered and how!

Right from the first delivery, which should have gotten him David Warner’s wicket, Jasprit Bumrah posed a lot of questions and bowled an incisive spell with the new ball. From the other end for the big final wasn’t Mohammed Siraj but India’s and tournament’s leading wicket-taker Mohammed Shami who took just one delivery to send Warner back to the hut. India had their tails up after the early dismissal, Bumrah picked two more – Marsha and Steve Smith – from the other end and it looked game on at 47/3 after seven overs.

One more, just one more wicket was needed at that stage to keep the tails up and not let the answers to the first few questions affect the complexion of the game but that wasn’t the case. A certain Head put all the tails down and took charge with a positive approach in a period where India had struggled. Dew played a part, eased the surface out a bit and from there on it was a perfect song of fire and ice by both Head and Marnus Labuschagne where the former stayed positive and allowed the right-hander to just blunt attack from the other end.

Head’s positive hundred and Labuschagne’s composure never allowed India to sneak back into the contest as the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja looked ineffective and were comfortably dealt with. India’s body language remained flat during that daddy stand and shoulders dropped further every time Head hit the ropes or cleared it.

The way matches have been played at this venue in the World Cup so far, the strip has mostly eased out under lights and with some assistance from dew. From the sluggishness of the first innings, life was easier for the batters after the first ten and the match, and the way the pitch behaved, could well be divided into two contrasting halves.

Cutters, change in lengths dominate the first half

The first delivery bowled by Pat Cummins in his spell was a sign of things to come in the Indian innings. He ran in hard and bowled an off-cutter which Rohit Sharma comfortably defended and scampered for a quick single. It was just the ninth over of the Indian innings, they were off to a flier and Cummins by then had figured mixing the pace and length was going to be key on his slow, dry and very sluggish surface.

It took him just eight deliveries to reap rewards for the plan as he sent the in-form Shreyas Iyer, who had two hundreds in his last two innings, back to the hut. After staying a mix of short and good length in his first over, Cummins went full to Virat Kohli with the first delivery of his second and pulled the length back while sticking to the corridor of uncertainty for Iyer. An unassured hang of the bat and the right-hander was dismissed for just four.

Silencing the capacity crowd

The Australian skipper was off for a big celebration, put in the jump and did what he had said at the pre-match presser. Hear the crowd go silent. And boy it did. There was pin-drop silence at the Narendra Modi Stadium as India lost their skipper Rohit and Iyer in quick succession. From 76/1, they were reduced to 81/3 in lightning-quick time and triggered the good old-fashioned grind with Kohli in the driving seat.

Kohli had got off to a fluent start with four boundaries but little did he know back then that those were going to be the only boundaries he hit in the title clash. KL Rahul at the other end, it felt like Chepauk all over again where the two had combined to pull off a solid win in India’s tournament opener. The stage, stakes and situation were completely different today but India again had two seasoned and in-form batters in the middle to bail them out of trouble.

Kohli dropped anchor but kept the scoreboard ticking with regular singles and Rahul took his sweet time before making a move on. That period was very crucial for India as another wicket, especially with a lack of batting depth, would have triggered panic in the changing room but the two right-handers soaked in the pressure and manoeuvred the ship out of troubled waters. No risks, no fancy shots and just sensible batting denied Australia any inroads for over 18 overs but it was that Cummins again who silenced, stunned to be precise, the crowd again.

The look of disbelief

Third delivery of the 29th over and Kohli, batting beautifully on 54, looked to work a rising delivery but could only inside edge it back on to his stumps. He stood there in disbelief, the crowd was shocked as Cummins celebrated wildly, again, after picking a crucial wicket and breaking a partnership which frustrated them in the middle overs.

From there on, it was always going to be difficult for the batters to follow to just come and start swinging. The wicket was baking under the sun, and had become more difficult as the ball turned soft, losing its sheen and colour in the process, and offered reverse towards the end of the innings. Ravindra Jadeja came, left. KL Rahul crossed fifty but fell just when the side needed him the most – last ten overs. Suryakumar Yadav just didn’t get the ideal pace to do his magic towards the fag end of the innings.

They ended with 240 and the innings gave an account of how difficult it was to get going during the middle overs. The Men in Blue managed just four boundaries in overs 11 to 50 and singles/doubles were the order of the day. Had it not been Rohit and Kohli’s brisk starts, they would have been in a spot of bother but 240 allowed them a real shot.

Rohit Sharma and Co. did take a proper shot with inroads in the powerplay but Head had other plans and denied the hosts a grand finish at the Narendra Modi Stadium. A billion hearts were broken as India’s wait for an ICC trophy continued and Australia added its sixth World Cup title to their cabinet.

first published:November 19, 2023, 21:49 IST
last updated:November 19, 2023, 22:51 IST