The World Cup awaits its coronation. Opening its campaign against Australia in Chennai on October 8, India will now face the same opponent in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday. For the Men in Blue, life has come a full circle while they seek the cup that will add lustre to their legacy.
The host has remained unbeaten so far, and the rival has notched eight wins on the trot. Just like the IAF jets that did their sorties on Saturday, India and Australia too want to scale the skies when the dust eventually settles on the quadrennial tournament. Just that one team will embrace ecstasy while the other will sulk in agony, and that is the nature of the sport.
Australia last played a World Cup final on Indian soil in the 1987 edition, when Allan Border’s men prevailed over England at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. Cut to the present, the challenge is even more arduous as Rohit Sharma’s men are in red-hot form.
The team hit the high notes all through the championship, and if there was a stutter, it came right in that first clash against Australia when India was reduced to two for three while chasing 199. Eventually, the host prevailed, and since then has never looked back.
But that brief stretch of vulnerability should enthuse the Aussies, as they hope to spoil India’s expected party at a gargantuan venue where more than a lakh will throng, eager to become part of history. That India hasn’t won any ICC silverware since the 2013 Champions Trophy title in England has been too heavy a cross to bear, and Rohit and company get a chance to end this 10-year drought.
Rohit, Virat Kohli, and the other batters are all in superb touch; the same holds true for the bowlers led by Jasprit Bumrah, as their rhythm and energy levels have been excellent. The fielding did lag a bit against New Zealand in the semifinal in Mumbai, and hopefully, it will remain an aberration.
Meanwhile, Pat Cummins and his men have steadily progressed and have enough firepower to test the Indians. David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, among batters and the Mitchell Starc-led attack with Adam Zampa offering the spinning counter are all part of the opposition’s strengths.
It is a unit that may not have fired in unison like India, but Australia, having won the World Cup on five occasions, surely knows what needs to be done in a summit clash. The pitch will be the same as the one used for the game against Pakistan on October 14. India won that encounter, and a repeat on Sunday will revive the Diwali spirit across the nation.
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