As India gears up to face Australia in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, cricket enthusiasts are filled with a sense of nostalgia and anticipation. This highly anticipated final comes exactly two decades after a painful loss to Australia in the title clash in South Africa, and the Men in Blue are determined to avenge that memory and etch another glorious chapter in their cricketing history by clinching their third 50-over World Cup title, this time on home soil.
Throughout the tournament, India has exhibited a strong all-around performance. Their top-order batsmen have delivered runs with an attacking intent that puts opponents on the back foot right from the start. The middle-order provides a mix of aggression and stability, a combination not often seen in this competition. The pace bowling attack has been relentless, while the spinners have been baffling and difficult to read. Despite a few moments when India’s top order faltered or certain bowlers seemed off-color, Team India maintained its dominance, achieving a perfect record of 10 wins in 10 games. To match Australia’s 11-match winning streak from the 2003 tournament, several players will need to be at their best. Here are some of the key Indian players to watch out for in the final:
The Indian skipper has emerged as a symbol of positivity and aggression in this tournament. With his clean sixes and effortless boundaries during the powerplay, he demoralizes bowlers in the first ten overs. His quick starts provide the batters following him with the opportunity to settle on the crease and assert themselves. In ten matches, Rohit has accumulated 550 runs at an impressive average of 55.00, including one century and three half-centuries. He has maintained a strike rate of over 124, which ranks among the best in the tournament. Rohit also boasts an impressive ODI record against Australia, having scored 2,332 runs in 44 ODIs at an average of 58.30, including eight centuries and nine fifties, with a highest score of 209.
Virat Kohli is the tournament’s leading run-scorer. In ten matches, he has amassed 711 runs at a remarkable average of over 101, featuring three centuries and five half-centuries. He now holds the record for the most runs in a single World Cup edition and is the only player to have achieved 50 ODI centuries. With these records and an unbeaten streak to his name, Virat’s confidence is undoubtedly soaring. He often reserves his best performances for matches against Australia and high-pressure encounters. In 48 matches against Australia, he has scored 2,313 runs at an average of 53.79, including eight centuries and 13 fifties in 46 innings. Expect Virat to deliver another exceptional performance in front of a passionate crowd of over 100,000 fans at the stadium.
KL Rahul has undergone a transformation since the Asia Cup earlier this year. He exudes a positive body language, showcases a more aggressive and intent-filled batting style, and demonstrates sharp wicketkeeping skills along with accuracy in DRS (Decision Review System) calls. Rahul is one of India’s most underrated success stories of the tournament, having scored 386 runs in 10 matches at an impressive average of over 77 and a strike rate of over 98. His century in just 62 balls against Australia in India’s campaign opener, when the team was struggling at 2/3 while chasing 200, showcased his exceptional batting prowess. Rahul has also been exceptional against Australia in ODIs this year, notching scores of 75, 9, 32, 58, 52, 26, and 97* against the five-time champions.
After missing the first half of the tournament, Mohammed Shami ignited the World Cup with his lethal bowling spells. In just six matches, he has taken a staggering 23 wickets at an astonishing average of 9.13 and a striking rate of 10.91. His remarkable bowling figures of 7/57, the best by an Indian in World Cups, came in the semifinal against New Zealand, where he dismantled their batting lineup. Shami’s impeccable seam position, accuracy, yorkers, and pace have haunted opponents throughout the tournament. He has been particularly effective against left-handed batters, with a bowling average of just 4 against them and conceding a mere 32 runs in 52 balls. Eight of his 23 wickets have been against left-handed batsmen, making him a crucial asset in neutralizing the threat posed by aggressive openers such as David Warner and Travis Head.
Jasprit Bumrah has been outstanding in the tournament, claiming 18 wickets in 10 matches at an impressive average of 18.33 and a strike rate of over 27, with best figures of 4/39. While Bumrah may not have the highest wicket count in the tournament, the pressure he exerts on opponents restricts their run flow and allows other bowlers to thrive. His ability to deliver accurate yorkers and deceptive variations make him a formidable force in the bowling department.
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.