Australia beat India in front of a packed Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad to collect their sixth ICC ODI World Cup title. The Aussies ran rampant with the ball and were calm between the crease, beating India at their own game. Here are the defining moments from a memorable final
India, unbeaten en route to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final, lost the trophy bout to Australia, no less in part due to the brilliance of Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne in between the wickets after the record-champions had lost their top order. Head and Labuschagne's partnership proved to be India's undoing, who, in turn, were on the wrong end of truly unfortunate moments in the first innings. (As It Happened | Scorecard | Full Coverage)
Here are the moments that defined the final:
Travis Head's Sensational Catch
Backed by a vociferous home crowd of more than one lakh people in blue shirts, Rohit Sharma started his innings off with a bang, sending the ball flying in all directions with a variety of strokes that only a master cricketer like himself can perform. As the Narendra Modi Stadium revelled in Sharma's display, Australia kept their eye on the ball. Pat Cummins sent Glenn Maxwell in to break Sharma's resolve, which he did, but thanks largely to Travis Head's outstanding athleticism.
Head ran away from the pitch while chasing the ball as it lofted across the field off Sharma's bat; keeping his eye on the prize all the while, the Australian opener leapt at the final moment to carefully caress the ball between his palms. Sharma stood bewildered on the pitch as Australia celebrated the dismissal of a dangerman.
Virat Kohli Goes Early
Having lost Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, and Shreyas Iyer early, Virat Kohli set himself on the pitch alongside KL Rahul, aiming to drag the Indian batting away from the rut it found itself in midway through the first innings. Kohli was his usual composed self, picking shots carefully while rotating the strike regularly, which, in turn, led to him reaching his fifth consecutive 50+ score in the 2023 ODI World Cup. While the Indian fans celebrate in the stands, jubilation wasn't to last long. Unable to get the shot he desired, Kohli ended up giving away his wicket to Pat Cummins, whose rapid delivery bounced off his bat and hit the stumps.
Kohli's dismissal was big; the Indian batter had so often helped his team reach insurmountable heights in the World Cup and getting him out would have been one of Australia's most significant targets prior to the game.
Australian Top Order Collapses
India struck out for 240 on the final ball of their innings, leaving Australia with a modest target to chase. However, chasing down the total in front of a lakh-strong Indian fans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad would be no easy feat, as Australia would learn not long after their innings kicked off.
David Warner went in early, scoring just seven on what probably is the 37-year-old's last ODI World Cup final appearance; Mitchell Marsh looked set at the crease but he, too, followed Warner back to the pavilion after accumulating just 15 runs from 15 balls. The experienced Steve Smith did not do any better: he walked back when Australia were 47/3, leaving India with the hope that they could defend the relatively low total.
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Marnus Labuschagne Survives On Umpire's Call
Often unheralded, Marnus Labuschagne entered the pitch at a crucial juncture in the tie. With Travis Head unable to get things going at the other end, the onus fell on Labuschagne to drag Australia out of the precarious position they found themselves in. Instead of going in guns-blazing, he was calm and composed, keeping things stable at his end and allowing Head to take the lead with the bat.
As the Labuschagne-Head partnership grew, so did the pressure on the Indian bowlers: the imperative had suddenly changed to getting one of them out as quickly as possible. Jasprit Bumrah was confident he had done exactly that when he went upstairs for an LBW decision that the on-field umpire had initially given not out; much to his dismay, the ball-tracking technology showed the ball only partially hitting the stumps and Labuschagne survived on umpire's call before picking up where he had left off.
Head and Labuschagne Grind Out The Win
Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne were not the pair many would've picked to take Australia over the threshold and into the promised land again, but, in the end, that is precisely what occurred.
Head raced to an outstanding 137 in front of a dejected Indian crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad before giving away his wicket cheaply to Mohammed Siraj. Labuschagne, who had played at a rate not too different to what one might see in a test match, completed his half-century, and was on the pitch when Glenn Maxwell collected the remaining two runs to hand Australia the win.
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