NEW DELHI/ AHMEDABAD: Breaking the hearts of over 1.4 billion Indians, Australia romped to a six-wicket victory against India in front of a stunned 130,000 home fans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday (Nov 19) evening. The win sealed a sixth World Cup trophy for the Australians who cemented their status as the most dominant team the sport has ever seen.
Travis Head (137) played the innings of his lifetime by smashing an eloquent century while his partner Marnus Labuschagne (58*) did well to soak the pressure and perform the sheet-anchor job to perfection. Their super partnership meant that India never got a sniff of a comeback as the team from Down Under won the match with 42 balls to spare.
Chasing a sub-par total of 241, Australia were off to a shaky start as India knocked back three wickets in the first powerplay. Opener David Warner, who was dropped in the first over as the ball went between Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill in the slip cordon, could not capitalize and fell prey to Mohammed Shami.
Skipper Rohit Sharma brought Shami to share the opening ball duties, despite the latter having bowled as a first-change bowler in every match he had played. Despite the wicket, Shami had little control over the new ball as he bowled wayward lines, making the job difficult for wicketkeeper KL Rahul.
On the other end, Jasprit Bumrah struck in consecutive overs, sending Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith back to the pavilion. Smith was particularly unlucky as replays showed that the ball impact was outside the line when he was adjudged LBW.
With the game finely poised at 47/3, India took the pedal off the game, allowing Head and Labuschange to bat themselves into form. Head took the lead in punishing poor balls from the Indians but it was the lack of urgency from Rohit that surprised most.
While pacers provided the early breakthroughs, the spinners failed to have an impact. Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja could not extract any purchase from the surface and the Australian batters manoeuvred them around with utmost ease.
India were outsmarted and outplayed in all departments of the game as the new generation of Indian fans, relieved the memories of the 2003 World Cup humiliation that haunts every fan that grew up during the time.
The match was perhaps lost in the first innings when Indian squandered the early advantage and then played some poor cricket. Put into bat first by Australian captain Pat Cummins, India were off the blocks yet again with Rohit carting the bowlers for fun.
Shubman Gill, however, perished while playing a nothing shot off Mitchell Starc. After Rohit’s dismissal in the 11th over, India only managed to hit four boundaries, demonstrating the squeeze applied by the Australian bowlers.
Although Virat Kohli smashed a fifth half-century on the trot, India never looked out of trouble and the innings struggled to have any momentum. KL Rahul contributed from the other end but fell against the reverse swing of Starc.
The Indian lower order, which hadn’t been exposed in the tournament, could not weather the assault and dropped the towel. In the end, India finished with 240 on the board, a good 40-50 short of the par total. The defeat means India’s quest for an ICC trophy continues, having lost won the Champions Trophy in 2013.