Photo : Collected
Australia captured the coveted 2023 ICC World Cup in emphatic style with a dominating six-wicket triumph in front of nearly 130,000 fans at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad of India on Sunday.
This is their record sixth title after their wins in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015. They also became the first country to clinch the World Cup two times on the Indian soil. Aussies previously won in 1987 World Cup in Indian backyard under the leadership of Alan Border.
The majority of a packed and partisan crowd arrived at the stadium hoping to see the host nation ending their decade-long wait for a major ICC trophy win, but Australian formidable bowling attack, impressive fielding and opener Travis Head’s amazing knock under pressure shattered millions of Indians’ dreams.
Not a single seat in the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium was unoccupied when Australia clashed with India.
Australia had, earlier, lost to India in the league match of the World Cup, but dismissed the host for 240 in 50 overs. Opener Travis then Head smashed a match-winning 120-ball 137 as in front of the huge Indian crowds, Australia took a sweet revenge in the most important match of the tournament, the grand finale.
Marnus Labuschagne provided a brilliant supporting role on the other end hitting a crucial 108-ball 57. The two masters combined at the crease for a match-clinching 192-run partnership, as Australia chased down a challenging target of 241 with 42 balls to spare.
Australia’s Travis Head was adjudged the player of the final while India’s Virat Kohli was named the player of the tournament for his fine run throughout the tournament.
However, Indian hopes soared when Australia lost opener David Warner (7), Mitchell Marsh (15) and Steven Smith (4) inside just seven overs.
An energised crowd roared on as India pressed hard for more powerplay wickets to boost their chances of defending 240 all out.
Australia put on 15 runs on the eventual first over but Mohammed Shami led India’s fightback by removing Warner in his very first over.
And Bumrah kept up pressure by removing the dangerous Mitchell Marsh for a run-a-ball 15, and then dismissing Steve Smith for 4.
With three of the top four back in the hutch with the score at 47/3, India had pulled themselves right back into the contest.
It was left the match winners Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne to lift the innings. The duo took the game away from with a match clinching stand in front of huge Indian crowds.
Head led the charge as Labuschagne laid anchor at the other end, with the opener bringing up a fine fifty under immense pressure.
The duo’s century stand left Australia in excellent position to win the match, with wickets in hand and plenty of overs to spare, and Head's phenomenal century was greeted by complete silence by a shellshocked crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Head who was adjudged the player of the match in the thrilling semifinal against South Africa continued his phenomenal form with the bat.
The player of the match managed his all-important innings with 15 fours and four sixes in one of the greatest World Cup final knocks.
Mohammed Siraj finally brought an end Head’s outstanding innings when it seemed all over as Australia needed just two runs.
Earlier, Australia bowlers kept India under pressure by taking wickets at regular intervals and dismissed the hosts for 240 in 50 overs.
Admirably supported by inspiring fielding, Australia seamers Mitchell Starc (3-55), Josh Hazlewood (2-60), Pat Cummins (2-34), spinners Adam Zampa (1-44) and Glenn Maxwell (1-35) were all over the India, who lost the final six wickets for barely 92 runs.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and chose to bowl first in Ahmedabad in-front of a packed crowd.
Cummins’ decision to bowl first after winning the toss proved vital with pace spearhead Mitchell Starc drew the first blood in India’s innings in the fifth over removing inform opener Shubman Gill for four.
Despite losing Gill early India’s attacking momentum continued with skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli racked up the runs in the first ten overs, with 80 runs coming in the first powerplay.
But the slide started when Rohit Sharma played one shot too many and was caught brilliantly by Travis Head at cover for 47 of Glen Maxwell.
Rohit stepped out against Glenn Maxwell but miscued his shot on the offside. Travis Head ran backwards from cover to take a tumbling catch to get rid of the India captain.
Rohit’s departure was followed by Shreyas Iyer for 4 in the very next over as the runs dried up through the middle overs.
India’s dependable Kohli hot couple of fours to push pressure back to Australia but India slumped to 81-3 in the 11th over when Cummins dismissed Shreyas Iyer caught behind.
Kohli and Rahul (66) then cautiously handled Australia attack with it meant going 16.1 overs without a boundary.
Kohli, the tournament's leading scorer, brought up his ninth 50-plus knock in 11 innings but skipper Cummins stood up at the vital time to dismiss Kohli with a clean bowled.
Wickets fell frequently as Australia’s bowling attack looked so discipline, and the final Indian wicket came off the last ball of the innings, with the total at just 240.
KL Rahul showed lone resistance but his struggling 66 came from 107 balls that proved the pitch was not so easy for batting.
wickets kept on falling that pushed India into defensive mode in the last 10 overs. Australia wicketkeeper Josh Inglis took five catches, which is a record in a World Cup final.
India’s 240 total was also boosted by the final-wicket pair between Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj. India’s innings finally came to an end with Kuldeep Yadav was run out coming back for a second off the final ball of the innings.