When the World Cup started last month, there was uncertainty over Travis Head’s availability for the tournament. Out of action for the first couple of weeks due to a hand injury, it was a race against time for the Australian opener to return to the groove.
Back then, not many would have imagined Head to guide the Aussies to their record sixth ODI World Cup title. But the 29-year-old hammered a classy 137 against India - his second century of the tournament - at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday to emerge as the hero.
Chasing a low total, Australia was reeling at 47 for three at one stage and needed an alliance to come out of the woods, and that’s when Head forged a match-winning partnership with Marnus Labuschagne to make it an ‘amazing day’ for himself and the team.
His efforts earned him the Player of the Match award - a feat previously held by Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist. “It’s a lot better than seeing the World Cup on the couch at home (during injury). I was a little bit nervous, but Marnus played exceptionally well and soaked all the pressure,” Head told the host broadcaster.
After losing Steve Warner early on, Head started rebuilding with Mitchell Marsh before Jasprit Bumrah sent the latter packing. But according to Head, Marsh did set the tone.
“The way Mitch (Marsh) took the game and set the tone, that was the energy we wanted. It was a great decision to bowl first, and the wicket got better as the game went on. It paid dividends, and it was nice to play a role,” he said.
This has been a year to remember for Head. While his catch of India captain Rohit Sharma turned out to be the game-changing moment, he became the seventh batter to smash a hundred in a World Cup final. Earlier this year, he ran away with the Test mace, scoring 163 at The Oval. “It feels nice to contribute to the team,” he added.
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