Dominant Aussies crush India for sixth WC
CHAMPIKA FERNANDO IN AHMEDABAD
At the pre-match press conference, Australian skipper Pat Cummins said there was nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent. That is exactly what they did last night, stunning a partisan home crowd with a crushing six wicket win in the World Cup final here at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. At the pre-match press conference, Australian skipper Pat Cummins said there was nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent. That is exactly what they did last night, stunning a partisan home crowd with a crushing six wicket win in the World Cup final here at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. It was a momentous Sunday night marked by high emotion and poignant scenes as India, the game’s financial superpower, were brought crashing down to earth by a group of men from the Southern hemisphere who have never lost a World Cup final since succumbing to Sri Lanka in 1996. The Australian players, many of them with tears in their eyes, rushed to the ground to hug one another as they completed a successful run chase as fireworks lit up the night sky to mark the historic moment. For India it was agony as KL Rahul fell to his knees in disbelief, struggling to cope with what had befallen them. Mohammed Siraj was in tears, as was Virat Kohli, the run machine, as they consoled each other. It was heartbreak for Rohit Shama’s men who had a near perfect tournament until last night: and for those closer to hundred thousand spectators (92,453), including Indian PM Narendra Modi, watching the Indian defeat from the stands. On a slow pitch, despite Indian skipper Sharma batting scintillatingly in the first power play, the big-match-boys, as the Australians are known, made the best use of pitch conditions to put the hosts in a spot of bother, bowling them out for 240. India triggered a top order collapse to leave Australia stuttering at 47 for 3 at the end of the seventh over. This pumped up the raucous, onesided crowd, but Australia got things under their control after the first powerplay with Travis Head and Marus Labuschagne weathering all Indian threats with a match winnings stand. David Warner showed a sense of urgency as soon as he arrived at the crease. He survived on nought when an edge flew past the first and second slips with neither Virat Kohli at first and Shubman Gill at second slip attempting to put their hands to grab it in the very first ball of the innings bowled by Jasprit Bumrah. But when the Indian skipper introduced Mohammed Shami instead of Mohammed Siraj to share the new ball, he struck with his first legal ball, igniting a loud roar from the Ahmedabad crowd. Mitchell Marsh started off well, hitting Shami down the ground for a six. He was on a run-a-ball 15 when he recklessly went for the cut and edged to the keeper, setting off another loud roar from the crowd. Steven Smith was trapped leg before by Bumrah in the final ball of the seventh over. Bumrah so smartly slipped in an off-cutting slower delivery. Smith missed it and the finger went up. The batter walked off after consulting his partner Travis Head but the TV replays showed the impact was outside the off stump. The chase was led by Head, the man who took them out of trouble in the semifinals with a matchwinning performance. Yesterday, he played the innings of his life to win the Australians the cup for the sixth time in their illustrious sporting history. Labuschagne was equal to the task, putting his hands up when it mattered most and remained unbeaten on 58 off 110 balls. Labuschagne was the perfect anchor that Head needed to weather the storm and they did it in style to blow off the Indians, adding 192 runs for the fourth wicket. When Head reached his 100, his second in the tournament off just 95 balls with 14 boundaries and a six, notwithstanding their alliance with the home team, the crowd stood up to applaud the great knock that robbed India of their third title. The Australian run-chase was aided by evening dew as the excessive presence of moisture on the field made it hard for India’s famed spinners Kuldip Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja to grip the ball and have control. When Head finally returned to the dressing room after guiding Australia to victory, he had made 137 runs off 120 and hit 15 fours and four sixes--the most important runs of his career. Knowing the outcome, many Indian fans deserted the ground and the team halfway through the innings and when Australia hit the final nail on India’s coffin, more than one fourth had left. It was not their bowling that let India down, though. Their strong batting unit that piled up misery onto opposing teams on their way to 10 wins on the trot, received a reality check from the Australian bowlers, folding them for a below par total. Sharma was exceptional as he tore apart the Australian bowling, hitting a flurry of fours and sixes. But the rest of the batting, including half centurions Virat Kohli (54) and KL Rahul (66), had to toil hard for their runs against some magnificent bowling that was well complimented by an incredible fielding. Sharma was the aggressor as he played ruthlessly hitting four boundaries and three sixes in his brief 31-ball 47, with India looking to score the maximum out of the first power play, given the slowness of the pitch. Despite losing Shubman Gill caught at mid-wicket by Adam Zampa off Mitchell Starc, the left-arm seamer, for four runs, Sharma continued his onslaught, playing with an enviable freedom. He stepped out and dispatched Glenn Maxwell’s second ball of the second over long-on for his third six and then cut the next delivery through cover point for a boundary to send a jam-packed crowd into elation. Looking to reach his 50 with a six, he stepped down to loft it over wide mid-on but only managed to slice it high as Travis Head, running backwards from the cover-point, took an exceptional diving catch to stun the crowd into silence. Australia exerted pressure thereafter, leaking just 35 runs off the next 10 overs and, more importantly, taking the wicket of Shreyas Irye (4), the man who had hit back-to-back centuries in their last two games. When Irye ended up nicking it behind off a good length delivery from Pat Cummins, India was 81 for three. Even though India lost two wickets at the first powerplay, they scored at a brisk rate, reaching 80 for 2 thanks to Sharma but managed only 117 runs in the second powerplay overs (10-30) as Cummins and Co tightened the screws, bowling at good line and lengths. Kohli, who notched a record 50th ODI ton in the semi-finals against New Zealand, and KL Rahul then consolidated the innings, batting with great caution after having understood the slowness of the pitch. The pair added 67 runs off 109 balls before the Australian skipper caused Kohli to drag one to the stumps to take the long walk back to the dressing room for 54. When he reached the half century—his 72nd—the packed house got off from their seats to applaud one of their great sons, hoping he would rescue them he has done right through the tournament. But to their disbelief, he was forced to depart, leaving his team stuttering at 148 for 4 in the 29th over. A 30-run fifth wicket stand between Rahul and Jadeja was broken by Josh Hazelwood inducing an edge to the wicket-keeper. Rahul held the innings together as much as he could and was 66 off 107 balls, when Micthell Starc tempted an edge to the keeper. A usually aggressive cricketer, Rahul played cautiously without taking any undue risks. He had only one boundary in his 107-ball knock before Starc produced a beauty to dismiss him. Mohammed Shami was Starc’s third scalp in the match as the batter edged, trying to drive a length ball as India was struggling at 211 for 7 in the 44th over. Adam Zampa struck in his last over, taking the wicket of Jasprit Bumrah to finish with figures of 1-44, but it was Starc (3-55), Cummins (2-34) and Hazelwood (2-60) who had the most impact. Suryakumar Yadav (18) was caught behind off Hazelwood while Kuldip Yadav was then run-out off the last ball of their innings.