Australia regains one-day cricket crown with dramatic World Cup final win over India
Powerful performance by Australia denies dream of winning World Cup title on home soil
Virat Kohli covered his face with his India cap. Skipper Rohit Sharma walked off with his head down. The only cheering inside Narendra Modi stadium (capacity: 132,000) — which had been a sea of Indian blue all day — came from the jubilant Australian players on the field.
Australia regained its status as king of one-day cricket by claiming a record-extending sixth World Cup title on Sunday, ending India’s dominant run in its home tournament with a six-wicket victory in a low-scoring final on the back of a brilliant innings of 137 by Travis Head.
The crowd was silenced as Head — who was sidelined with a broken left hand when the tournament began — combined with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) in a 192-run partnership to chase down the target of 241. Australia was wobbling in its chase on 47-3 after seven overs, but Head and Labuschagne dug in to help their country add to its 50over world titles in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015.
Head was dismissed off what proved to be the next-to-last ball of the match, caught deep while attempting to hit a title-clinching boundary. In came Glenn Maxwell and he ran two off his first ball, securing a victory that prompted fireworks above the world’s largest cricket venue.
The Indians won all 10 of their matches before the final, and were seeking a third trophy in their fourth appearance in a title match that brought a country of 1.4 billion to a virtual standstill. They were outplayed in every department by battle-ready Australia, though, and restricted to 240 all out on a slow pitch after losing the toss with only Virat Kohli (54) and Lokesh Rahul (66) making half-centuries.
“We were not good enough today,” Sharma said. “We tried everything, but it didn’t work.”
Kohli finished with 765 runs in 11 games, an average of 95.62, and was named player of the tournament.
The final, though, belonged to Head, selected man of the match. He became only the seventh player to score a century in a men’s World Cup final — and the third Australian after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.
He also delivered a significant moment in India’s innings with a diving catch — running back from cover to remove Sharma (47) — that will go down in cricket lore.
Head’s ton saw him join an illustrious list that includes West Indians Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards, as well as Sri Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva and Mahela Jayawardene. Ponting’s 140 not out had also helped Australia beat India in the 2003 final. Jayawardene’s century was the only one in a losing cause, with India winning the 2011 final.
“What an amazing day,” Head said. “To be able to do that on the biggest stage, in front of a full house, under all that pressure is something I’ll be able to look back on later in my life.”
Australia finished with a run of nine straight wins, after starting with back-to-back defeats to India and South Africa.
India won the World Cup in 1983 and 2011. Its last major victory was the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. Former India captains and film stars were at the game, along with prominent politicians including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.
Australia captain Pat Cummins bowled exceptionally well, returning figures of 2-34 in 10 overs including the dismissals of Kohli and Shreyas Iyer. Kohli reached 50 off 56 balls before playing on off Cummins. His dismissal silenced the stadium, and the nation.
‘‘ We were not good enough today. We tried everything, but it didn’t work.
ROHIT SHARMA INDIA SKIPPER
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited