In Ahmedabad, India, Australia secured their sixth Cricket World Cup title on Sunday, setting a new record. They halted India's dominant performance in their home tournament by clinching a six-wicket victory in a low-scoring final, largely attributed to Travis Head's outstanding innings of 137.
Despite a fervently partisan crowd filling the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium, Head and Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) formed a resilient 192-run partnership, successfully chasing down the target of 241. Australia faced a shaky start at 47-3 after seven overs, but the duo of Head and Labuschagne anchored the innings, enabling their team to reclaim its supremacy in one-day international cricket. This victory added to Australia's previous 50-over world titles in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015.
Head's pivotal innings concluded in the penultimate ball of the match when he was caught in the deep while attempting a boundary that would have sealed the title. Glenn Maxwell stepped in, running two off his first ball, securing the victory and prompting celebratory fireworks above the world's largest cricket venue.
Before the final, the Indian cricket team had an impressive record, winning all 10 of their matches and aiming for a third trophy in their fourth appearance in a title match that captivated a country of 1.4 billion people, bringing it to a virtual standstill. However, they were outplayed in every aspect by Australia, posting a total of 240 all out on a slow pitch after losing the toss. The only notable contributions came from Virat Kohli (54) and Lokesh Rahul (66), both scoring half-centuries.
Travis Head, becoming the seventh player to score a century in a men's World Cup final and the third Australian after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, played a crucial role. He made a significant impact in India's innings by taking a diving catch running back from cover to dismiss captain Rohit Sharma (47).
Reflecting on the victory, Head expressed his excitement, stating, "What an amazing day, I’m just thrilled to be a part of it." He highlighted the nerves he felt initially, especially considering he had started the tournament sidelined by a broken left hand. Head credited the exceptional partnership with Marnus Labuschagne and acknowledged the special feeling of contributing on the big stage in front of a massive crowd.
Head's century placed him among cricketing greats, including Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Aravinda de Silva, and Mahela Jayawardene. Notably, Ricky Ponting's 140 not out had played a pivotal role in Australia's victory over India in the 2003 final. Mahela Jayawardene remains the only player to score a century in a losing cause, as India emerged victorious in the 2011 final.
Australia concluded the 2023 tournament with an impressive run of nine consecutive wins, overcoming their initial setbacks with back-to-back defeats to India and South Africa. In contrast, India, despite their stellar performance throughout the competition, fell short in the final. The Indian team, winners of the World Cup in 1983 and 2011, had last tasted major success by winning the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
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