India’s dreams of winning a third World Cup was shattered by a relentless Australia in the final on Sunday in Ahmedabad. India were all out for 240, with Australia starving them out after they shot off 80 runs in the first 10 overs. While Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami then got the hosts off to a promising start in their defence, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne shut the door with 192-run stand. Head scored 137 in 120 balls while Labuschagne was unbeaten on 58 off 110 and Australia took the match by six wickets.
India had been the dominant side and seen as the outright favourites in the lead-up to the match. They had won all of the games they had played up until the final by significant margins and this included a six-wicket win over Australia in their tournament opener. Australia, on the other hand, started the tournament with two big defeats and then went on to win every match after that.
Head fell off what turned out to be the second last ball of the tournament, fifth ball of the 43rd over bowled by Mohammed Siraj. Glenn Maxwell, who had taken the big wicket of Rohit Sharma earlier in the day and led Australia to victory with the bat with a once-in-a-lifetime double century despite multiple cramps against Afghanistan earlier in the tournament, then finished it off by taking two runs off the first ball that he faced.
This was followed by scenes of contrasting emotions. While the elated Australians ran on to the pitch to hug the two batters who were jumping with joy, the shoulders of the Indian players slumped and they dragged themselves off their respective fielding positions. The players and team management were visibly dejected throughout the presentation ceremony and India batting great Sachin Tendulkar walked out and had a few words with them. Tendulkar was famously part of the last Indian team to have won the World Cup in 2011 and also a long time teammate in the Indian team of head coach Rahul Dravid.
‘This team has played superb cricket’
Sunil Gavaskar, another stalwart of Indian cricket who had also won the World Cup in 1983, was all praise for the team in his post-match comment on Star Sports. “I’m sad. This team played such terrific cricket for ten games but just wasn’t able to take that one step that could have got them the trophy. But with that said I think all of us have to be mighty proud of them. This team has played superb cricket and yes it happens sometimes the final doesn’t go your way. But this team has been sensational in all aspects for ten matches,” he said.
“This time a couple of things that could have gone their way, which didn’t happen, so that’s fine. That is how luck can go against you. But like I said there’s no shame in losing to a better team. A team that was better on the day, just like India was better on the day of the first match. There’s no shame in losing to the five-time champions. They know how to win the finals. Very proud of all the effort that they’ve done, very proud of the joy that they have given millions who have been following them,” said Gavaskar.
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