The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final is set to be a battle of titans as Australia prepares to face India at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday (November 19). While Australia clinched a one-sided victory against India in the final of the tournament back in 2003, this time around, the challenge promises to be much more formidable.
India has showcased a complete package throughout the tournament, boasting a hard-hitting top-order, a middle-order that balances aggression with stability, a pace attack capable of producing incredible tricks with nearly every ball, and spin bowlers who have consistently troubled world-class batters with their flight and turn.
Australia’s journey in the tournament began with shaky performances, including heavy losses to arch-rivals India and South Africa. However, the Aussies rebounded spectacularly, securing eight consecutive victories and now stand on the cusp of scripting yet another story of resilience, aggression, and domination. These traits have defined the ‘Kangaroos’ throughout their cricketing history.
To secure their sixth World Cup title, a feat that would be celebrated in front of a fervent Indian crowd, the following players will need to be at their absolute best:
Travis Head, the left-handed opener, poses a significant threat to the Indian bowling line-up. Unlike his more experienced partner, David Warner, Head brings a fearless and aggressive style of cricket to the table. He made a resounding statement at the beginning of the tournament by smashing a century off just 67 balls against New Zealand. After a few inconsistent outings, Head played a pivotal role with his aggressive 62 off 48 balls against South Africa, effectively negating the valiant efforts of the Proteas. He has amassed 192 runs in five matches with a strike rate of over 139. Despite occasional inconsistencies, Head has a proven track record of delivering on the big stage.
The veteran opener, David Warner, is likely playing in his final ODI World Cup at the age of 37. Unleashing the vintage, power-hitting Warner in the final will be his aim, as it could single-handedly guide Australia to their sixth title. Age is no bar for Warner, who has accumulated 528 runs in 10 matches at an impressive average of over 52, including two centuries and two fifties. His highest score of 163 against Pakistan showcased his match-winning capabilities. A century in his final World Cup match would be a fitting farewell for one of Australia’s finest all-format batters.
Glenn Maxwell endured a challenging start to the ODI World Cup with a series of low scores. However, he turned the tide with a remarkable 40-ball century against the Netherlands, the fastest-ever century in World Cup history. Maxwell further showcased his brilliance against Afghanistan when he rescued Australia from a precarious position of 91/7 during a run-chase of 292. Battling cramps and the scorching heat, he played an unforgettable innings of 201* in 128 balls, single-handedly winning the game for Australia. Although Maxwell has had some struggles against Indian spinners this year, he is widely regarded as one of the best players of spin. With his expertise in handling spin and unwavering confidence, Maxwell is Australia’s trump card against Indian spinners in the middle overs. He is also capable of contributing valuable overs of spin himself, particularly against an Indian side that has faced challenges on spin-friendly surfaces.
While Mitchell Starc may not have replicated his ‘World Cup Starc’ form this year, glimpses of his big-match prowess were evident in the semifinal against South Africa, where he claimed a three-wicket haul that severely disrupted the Proteas’ batting lineup. Starc’s ability to restrict opponents during the powerplay overs makes him a valuable asset, and it would not be surprising to see him reach his peak against India, becoming a menacing presence on the field.
Australian skipper Pat Cummins leads from the front and is known for peaking at the right time. With 13 wickets in 10 World Cup matches so far, he has delivered crucial cameos with the bat during tense run-chases. Cummins’ multifaceted contributions make him a versatile player, capable of making an impact with both bat and ball. His leadership qualities further enhance his value to the team, ensuring that he remains an integral part of Australia’s campaign.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.