Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Australia clinched their sixth ODI World Cup title after breaking India’s 10-match winning momentum and beating them by six wickets in the final match of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

The Aussies won a record-extending sixth title, after having won the 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015 editions.

Meanwhile, India’s dreams of winning a third World Cup title lay in tatters after an inexplicable meltdown, plunging the cricket-obsessed country into deep mourning. India, who were the only unbeaten side going into the final after 10 wins on the trot, fell flat in the final hurdle. Their last world title came way back in 2011 and their last ICC trophy was the Champions Trophy triumph in 2013.

Australia chased the victory target of 241 runs in 43 overs by losing only four wickets. Opener Travis Head (137, 120b, 15x4, 4x6) scored a brilliant century to lead the run chase. He was well supported by Marnus Labuschagne (58 n o, 110b, 4x4).

Indian speedsters Jasprit Bumrah (2/43) and Mohammed Shami (1/47) took early inroads to put Australia under tremendous pressure. However, with heavy dew falling during Australia’s innings, the track became conducive to bat on. Under the circumstance, the Indian bowlers became ineffective against the Australian batters.

Earlier, India faced a batting debacle and were bundled out for a below par total of 240. Barring KL Rahul (66, 107b, 1x4) and Virat Kohli (54, 63b, 4x4), no other batsmen could impress with the bat. Though skipper Rohit Sharma (47, 31b, 4x4, 3x6) played a cameo and gave Team India a good start, he could not convert the knock into something substantial.

Indian batters could not gauge the sluggish pitch properly on which the ball was stopping a bit and lost wickets at regular intervals to give the Australians an upper hand.

Speedster Mitchell Starc (3/55) was the pick of the bowlers for Australia. He was supported well by captain Pat Cummins (2/34) and Josh Hazlewood (2/60).

Rohit gave India a blazing start, but Australia made a comeback with regular strikes to put the hosts on the backfoot. Kohli, who became the first Indian to score 50+ runs in both the semifinal and final of the same World Cup, and Rahul did revive India’s innings with cautious knocks but Australia kept taking wickets at regular intervals.

Starc picked three while Hazlewood and Cummins bagged two wickets each to bowl out India for 240 in the allotted 50 overs. Kuldeep Yadav was the last wicket to fall as he got run out on the final ball of the innings while trying to steal a double.

Put into bat first, India got off to a good start with skipper Rohit continuing his aggressive style of play. The captain hit a brace of fours in the second over and smashed a six and a four in the fourth to give India a firing start.

Starc dismissed Shubman Gill in the fifth over to put a break on the runs scoring but Rohit kept hitting the odd boundaries and stitched a 46-run partnership with Kohli.

India went past 50 in just 6.2 overs as Kohli joined the party and hit three consecutive fours. Both batters looked good in the middle and to take the run-scoring a step further, Rohit mistimed a shot in Glenn Maxwell’s over and Travis Head took a blinder running back.

Things got worse for the Men in Blue, as India lost wickets in consecutive overs with Shreyas Iyer going back to the pavilion without troubling Australia. India were reduced to 81/3 in the 11th over.

Kohli and K.L. Rahul then steadied the ship for the hosts and took India’s score past the 100-run mark in the 16th over. The duo continued scoring at a brisk rate taking minimal chances to hit boundaries.

However, Cummins had other plans as he dismissed Kohli in the 29th over to put India again on the backfoot. Kohli, who has scored the most runs in the ongoing World Cup, departed soon after scoring his fifty.

Ravindra Jadeja, surprisingly sent in ahead of Suryakumar Yadav, failed to make an impact and was dismissed in the 36th over. As India crossed the 200-run mark in the 41st over, a final push seemed imminent. However, Starc’s return to the attack saw the crucial dismissal of Rahul.

With Suryakumar Yadav holding onto one end, India kept losing wickets as both Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were dismissed cheaply.

Suryakumar and Kuldeep just added 12 runs for the ninth wicket before Josh Hazlewood dismissed the batter on a slower bouncer. With Suryakumar’s wicket, India’s hopes of going past the 250-run mark came to an end as the hosts got reduced to 226/9 in the 48th over.

In the end, India were only able to score 240 runs in the allotted 50 overs with Kuldeep and Mohammed Siraj scoring 10 and nine runs respectively.

On Team India emerging runners-up, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Dear Team India, Your talent and determination through the World Cup was noteworthy. You’ve played with great spirit and brought immense pride to the nation. We stand with you today and always.”

Modi congratulated Australia for clinching the title.

“Congratulations to Australia on a magnificent World Cup victory! Theirs was a commendable performance through the tournament, culminating in a splendid triumph. Compliments to Travis Head for his remarkable game today,” Modi wrote on X (earlier known as Twitter).

Brief scores: 

India: 240 all out in 50 overs (KL Rahul 66, Virat Kohli 54; Mitchell Starc 3/55) lost to Australia 241/4 in 43 overs (Travis Head 137, Marnus Labuschagne 58 not out; Jasprit Bumrah 2/43) by six wickets.