India clinch World Cup title with thrilling win over Australia. India lifted their third ICC Cricket World Cup trophy after defeating Australia by four wickets in a tense final at Ahmedabad on Sunday. Chasing a modest target of 200, India overcame a shaky start to reach the goal with 12 balls to spare, thanks to a brilliant 95 from captain Virat Kohli and an unbeaten 97 from KL Rahul.
India’s chase got off to a disastrous start, as they lost their openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill for ducks in the first two overs. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood bowled with fire and accuracy, and reduced India to 2 for 2. Kohli and Rahul then joined forces and steadied the innings with a magnificent partnership of 165 for the third wicket. They played with caution and aggression, rotating the strike and finding the boundaries at regular intervals. Kohli was the aggressor, hitting nine fours and a six, while Rahul was the anchor, hitting eight fours and a six.
The duo took India to 167 for 2 in the 37th over, and looked set to finish the game with ease. However, Australia fought back with three quick wickets, as Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya fell in the space of 12 runs. Kohli was caught at midwicket off Trent Boult, trying to end the match with a six, while Pant and Pandya were bowled by Adam Zampa and Pat Cummins respectively.
India were suddenly in trouble at 179 for 6, needing 21 runs from 18 balls, with four wickets in hand. Rahul was joined by Ravindra Jadeja, who had earlier starred with the ball, taking three wickets. The pair kept their calm and took India closer to the target with some smart running and crisp hitting. Rahul hit the winning runs with a boundary off Matt Henry in the 49th over, and celebrated with a roar. He remained unbeaten on 97, his 11th ODI fifty, and was named the Player of the Match.
Earlier, Australia were bowled out for 199 in 49.3 overs, after opting to bat first. They got off to a poor start, losing Mitchell Marsh for a duck in the third over. David Warner and Steven Smith then added 69 runs for the second wicket, before both fell in quick succession. Warner was caught and bowled by Kuldeep Yadav for 41, while Smith was bowled by Jadeja for 46.
Australia never recovered from the double blow, and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Jadeja also dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey, while Kuldeep Yadav removed Glenn Maxwell. Cameron Green, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc tried to provide some resistance, but could not take Australia to a competitive total. Mohammed Shami was the pick of the bowlers for India, taking five wickets for 54 runs, his second five-for in World Cups. Jasprit Bumrah, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav took two wickets each, while Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin took one each.
Shami was named the Player of the Series for his outstanding performance throughout the tournament. He took 22 wickets in nine matches, at an average of 18.36 and an economy rate of 4.62. He said he was happy to contribute to the team’s success, and dedicated the trophy to the fans.
“It feels great to win the World Cup, and to be the Player of the Series. It is a dream come true for me. I worked hard on my fitness and skills, and I am glad that it paid off. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, support staff and family for their support and encouragement. I also want to thank the fans for their love and passion. This trophy is for them,” Shami said.
Kohli, who became the first captain to win three World Cups, said he was proud of his team’s performance, and praised Rahul and Jadeja for their match-winning partnership.
“It is an amazing feeling to win the World Cup for the third time. It is a historic moment for Indian cricket. I am very proud of my team, they showed great character and spirit throughout the tournament. We played some tough matches, but we never gave up. We played as a unit, and we supported each other. I want to congratulate Rahul and Jadeja for their superb innings. They showed a lot of composure and skill, and took us over the line. They are the heroes of the final,” Kohli said.
Australia captain Pat Cummins, who took over the reins from the injured Aaron Finch, said he was disappointed with the result, but praised his team for reaching the final.
“It is a tough loss to take, but we have to give credit to India. They played better than us, and they deserved to win. We did not bat well enough, and we did not put enough runs on the board. We tried to defend it, but it was not enough. I am proud of my team, though. They fought hard throughout the tournament, and they reached the final. It is not easy to do that, and I want to thank them for their effort and commitment,” Cummins said.
The final was witnessed by a packed crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket stadium. The fans cheered and celebrated every moment of the match, and created a festive atmosphere. The presentation ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the President of the BCCI, Sourav Ganguly, and the Chairman of the ICC, Greg Barclay. The Indian team received a cheque of $4 million, while the Australian team received a cheque of $2 million. The Indian players also received gold medals, while the Australian players received silver medals. The Indian team then took a lap of honour around the stadium, holding the trophy aloft, and acknowledging the fans.