An eerie silence descended at a packed venue with more than ninety thousand fans as Australia busted India’s dreams. The light dimmed on the Men in Blue as their searing run in the World Cup ground to a halt as Australia triumphed in the summit clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19 night.
After restricting India to 240 on a sluggish pitch, Pat Cummins and his men survived some anxious moments before arriving at the winning post with opener Travis Head’s splendid 137 (120b, 15x4, 4x6) anchoring the chase. The visitors scored 241 for four in 43 overs and won by six wickets.
Australia made a nervous start as David Warner edged a four through slips off Jasprit Bumrah before Head pounded two fours. Mohammed Shami then scalped Warner, winced when stuck for a six by Mitchell Marsh and then saw his partner Bumrah prise out the batter. Steve Smith drove a lovely four off Bumrah and immediately found his pads ruffled right in front.
At 47 for three, Australia needed an alliance to quell the nerves in the dressing room. Southpaw Head and Marnus Labuschagne (58 n.o.) stayed together, initially playing as straight as possible and once Bumrah and Shami’s first spells were over, got nimble on their feet and ran hard. Allowing Labuschagne to settle, Head lofted Kuldeep Yadav for six and when Mohammed Siraj dug in short, he just pulled a four.
Rohit Sharma then pressed Shami into service and Head greeted him with a four and in the speedster’s next over, the batter picked the square-leg fence for a four. When Bumrah came back, Head dished out the same treatment. As the dew settled, it became difficult for the bowlers to grip.
Head got to his superb hundred and then hit a celebratory six off Ravindra Jadeja! On the cusp of winning, the centurion fell but by then his 192-run fourth-wicket partnership with Labuschagne, had Australia sniffing its sixth World Cup trophy.
In the afternoon, Cummins won the toss, opted to field and his counterpart Rohit, waded in to Josh Hazlewood. The Indian captain drilled two fours, hoisted a six, smote another four as Hazlewood’s first spell was shredded to bits. During this mayhem, Gill tamely fell to Mitchell Starc.
Virat Kohli walked in, greeted by the customary roar, and Rohit was his usual self, striking a six off Starc. Kohli joined the act, hitting three consecutive fours off the spearhead. Rohit (47) then did a ‘6-4’ routine against Glenn Maxwell, and while attempting another six, found a diving Head pouch the skier. Cummins then lured an edge from Shreyas Iyer.
At 81 for three in 10.2 overs, India needed a partnership. Kohli and K.L. Rahul buckled down while the Australians fielded with tigerish zeal. Kohli went past his 50 and in a while the 67-run steady fourth-wicket partnership concluded. Kohli (54), while trying to defend a short delivery from Cummins, saw the ball drop onto the stumps.
It took an eternity for a shocked Kohli to leave. Next man Jadeja edged Hazlewood, and Rahul, after scoring a cautious 66, fell to Starc. Australia kept it tight all through and later owned the night.
INDIA INNINGS: Rohit Sharma c Head b Maxwell 47 (31b, 4x4, 3x6), Shubman Gill c Zampa b Starc 4 (7b), Virat Kohli b Cummins 54 (63b, 4x4), Shreyas Iyer c Inglis b Cummins 4 (3b, 1x4), K.L. Rahul c Inglis b Starc 66 (107b, 1x4), Ravindra Jadeja c Inglis b Hazlewood 9 (22b), Suryakumar Yadav c Inglis b Hazlewood 18 (28b, 1x4), Mohammed Shami c Inglis b Starc 6 (10b, 1x4), Jasprit Bumrah lbw b Zampa 1 (3b), Kuldeep Yadav run out 10 (18b), Mohammed Siraj (not out) 9 (8b, 1x4); Extras (lb-3, w-9): 12.
Total (in 50 overs): 240.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-30 (Gill, 4.2 overs), 2-76 (Rohit, 9.4), 3-81 (Shreyas, 10.2), 4-148 (Kohli, 28.3), 5-178 (Jadeja, 35.5), 6-203 (Rahul, 41.3), 7-211 (Shami, 43.4), 8-214 (Bumrah, 44.5), 9-226 (Suryakumar, 47.3).
AUSTRALIA BOWLING: Starc 10-0-55-3, Hazlewood 10-0-60-2, Maxwell 6-0-35-1, Cummins 10-0-34-2, Zampa 10-0-44-1, Marsh 2-0-5-0, Head 2-0-4-0.
AUSTRALIA INNINGS: David Warner c Kohli b Shami 7 (3b, 1x4), Travis Head c Gill b Siraj 137 (120b, 15x4, 4x6), Mitchell Marsh c Rahul b Bumrah 15 (15b, 1x4, 1x6), Steve Smith lbw b Bumrah 4 (9b, 1x4), Marnus Labuschagne (not out) 58 (110b, 4x4), Glenn Maxwell (not out) 2 (1b); Extras (b-5, lb-2, w-11): 18.
Total (for four wkts. in 43 overs): 241.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-16 (Warner, 1.1), 2-41 (Marsh, 4.3), 3-47 (Smith, 6.6), 4-239 (Head, 42.5).
INDIA BOWLING: Bumrah 9-2-43-2, Shami 7-1-47-1, Jadeja 10-0-43-0, Kuldeep 10-0-56-0, Siraj 7-0-45-1.
Toss: Australia; PoM: Head.
Australia triumphed by six wickets with seven overs to spare.