Travis Head smashes Australia to their sixth Cricket World Cup title
Travis Head struck a massive century to help Australia silence a 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in India in the Cricket World Cup final on Sunday.
Australia destroyed India by six wickets to claim an unprecedented sixth Cricket World Cup title in front of a capacity 132,000 crowd at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
Player of the match Travis Head, who received the same award in Australia’s semifinal win over South Africa, struck 137 off 120 balls to guide the Aussies to India’s target of 240 with seven overs remaining.
Head became the third Australian after Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting to hit a century in a World Cup final.
The Aussies’ mental steel was once again cemented in the knockout phase of the tournament, as they came into the final as underdogs, but completely dominated the fixture.
India had been unbeaten throughout the tournament and had defeated Australia by 66 runs in their opening match of the tournament.
In fact, Australia lost their opening two matches of the tournament – the other to South Africa – before going on a nine-match winning run, coming back at the business end to beat both South Africa and India to claim the title.
“There was a real shift after those first two games, with our batting particularly. Our openers went pretty aggressively and didn’t waver from that and there was total buy-in from everyone,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said.
“We saved our best for last. A couple of big-match players stood up … we’re pretty chuffed.”
The pitch in Ahmedabad was slow and seamed around early, vindicating Cummins’s decision to bowl first.
Australia’s three quicks took seven wickets between them in the favourable conditions to help restrict India to a modest 240 all out.
“We were not good enough … it just wasn’t our day. We tried everything we could,” Indian captain Rohit Sharma said after the clash.
A Head start
After losing David Warner (seven off three), Mitchell Marsh (15 off 15) and Steve Smith (four off nine) Australia were in trouble at 47 for three in the seventh over when Marnus Labuschagne (58 off 110) joined Head at the crease.
With their team under pressure, the pair put on a sensational 192-run fourth-wicket partnership.
Head was the aggressor, pounding 15 fours and four sixes while Labuschagne was more circumspect on a tricky surface, bringing up his half-century off 99 balls with a wristy flick to the midwicket boundary.
Head fractured his hand facing a Gerald Coetzee bouncer in South Africa two months ago. Because of that, the opening batter missed all his side’s warm-up matches as well as the first five games of the tournament, but the Aussie selectors kept faith in him and he proved why on the biggest stage.
Head was dismissed with only two runs to win, crunching a pull shot to Shubman Gill at deep mid-wicket.
Glenn Maxwell came to the crease and hoiked the ball to a vacant square leg as Labuschagne scampered back for two and the pair sealed the win with 42 balls to spare.
Australia’s exhibition of fielding that they displayed against South Africa in the semifinal was on show again in the final.
Gill (four off seven) was unable to get going while his opening partner Sharma (47 off 31) was inventive and proactive, getting his side off to a flying start.
But Sharma’s aggressive approach was his downfall as, despite skipping down the wicket, he couldn’t get to the pitch of a Maxwell delivery and was outstandingly caught by the incomparable Head, who ran back and dived, catching the ball over his shoulder at cover point.
India were still comfortable at 80 for the loss of two wickets at the end of the powerplay. But once Shreyas Iyer (four off three) was dismissed an over later, the scoring rate dropped rapidly.
Tournament leading run-scorer and player of the tournament, Virat Kohli, (54 off 63) kept ticking along the singles while KL Rahul (66 off 107) batted through more than 30 overs and struck only one boundary.
Australia’s quicks got the ball to reverse swing late in the innings and once Rahul was dismissed in the 42nd over by a Mitchell Starc ripper – Starc finished with three wickets – the tail fell apart.
India went from 203 for six with eight-and-a-half overs to play to 240 all out in the final over.
“You have to go and win a World Cup; you can’t wait for it to happen. You have to be brave at times; you have to take the game on,” said Cummins, who picked up two scalps while conceding only 34 runs in 10 overs.
Australia’s achievements on the cricket field this year include a World Test Championship win, an Ashes series retention and now a Cricket World Cup title. DM