Australia has won the 2023 World Cup after one of the great innings from Travis Head, thrashing India by six wickets with 42 balls remaining.
While it may not have been the most thrilling of finals, it was a stunning victory nonetheless as Head and Marnus Labuschagne overcame some early blushes to silence the 120,000-strong pro-Indian crowd in the stadium, and more than a billion more watching from home.
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Chasing 241, Australia dropped to 3/47 and it was game on.
But Head blasted his way to 137 off 120 balls before he was caught on the boundary by Shubman Gill with Australia needing just two runs.
It ended a remarkable 192-run stand with Labuschagne, who was 58 not out at the end off 110 balls.
While it wasn’t fast from Labuschagne, it was what was required as the Aussies finished it off with seven full overs remaining.
It was a brutal result for India, who went through the tournament undefeated until falling at the last hurdle.
In commentary, Ian Smith said that Australia’s win had “broke a billion hearts along the way”.
For Australia, it was a brilliant comeback after losing their first two games of the tournament to India and South Africa, the teams they defeated in the Final and semi-final respectively.
It continues a remarkable run from the Aussies, who are the World Test Championship holders as well as retaining the Ashes after a series draw with England.
Former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting paid tribute to the tremendous bounce back, which saw Australia win its last nine matches to claim the nation’s sixth World Cup title.
For the record, India and the West Indies are equal second on the list of most World Cup titles with two each.
“They had their backs to the walls from the very first two games of this tournament,” Ponting said.
“They weren’t at their best, nowhere near their best. They had to dig deep. And haven’t they done that?
“The legacy of Australian teams continued through World Cups, continually building, continually getting better and peaking at the right time and winning big games and big moments.
“Pat Cummins and his men, along with the coaching staff of Andrew McDonald, hold your heads up high boys. It’s been a fantastic campaign and one that you’ve thoroughly deserved to win.”
Head had produced an incredible performance, adding the player of the match in the World Cup Final to his player of the match in the semi-final against South Africa and the World Test Championship Final, which was also against India.
“Not in a million years,” Head said. “What an amazing day. Just thrilled to be a part of it.”
Head had come into the tournament late after he broke his hand in the series against South Africa before the World Cup.
Head’s innings was just the seventh World Cup Final hundred following Viv Richards in 1979, Clive Lloyd in 1983, Aravinda de Silva in 1996, Ricky Ponting in 2003, Adam Gilchrist in 2007 and Mahela Jayawardene in 2011.
And now Travis Head, 2023.
Asked about how it feels to be on the list of Aussie World Cup Final centurions along
“I’m definitely third on that list,” Head laughed. “It’s a nice one to join. Again, just nice
to be here and it’s nice to contribute. Yeah, like I just said to the boys, I’m looking forward to the reunion.”
Labuschagne was clearly emotional at the end of the game.
“What we’ve achieved today is unbelievable,” Labuschagne said.
“It’s the best achievement I’ve ever been a part of.
“Just to come to India, you know, ten from ten with one to play — they’ve been the team of the tournament. They’ve played unbelievable.
“But you knew if we played our best cricket, we were a chance. And you know, our bowlers were sensational and then Travis put on a hell of a display and it was great to be a part of it with him.”
All times in AEDT
2.11pm — Travis Head saves the day
When the Travis Head of 2023 comes out, you expect a swashbuckling performance, but the superstar has saved the day for Australia with a 95-ball 100 in the World Cup Final.
Head has turned the match after the Aussies fell to 3/47 following Smith’s dismissal — where he appeared to convince Smith he was dead to rites.
It’s just the seventh World Cup Final hundred following Viv Richards in 1979, Clive Lloyd in 1983, Aravinda de Silva in 1996, Ricky Ponting in 2003, Adam Gilchrist in 2007 and Mahela Jayawardene in 2011.
And now Travis Head, 2023.
It was not a flawless innings, nor an easy one but Head has dragged Australia on his back after losing three early wickets.
His hundred has been match defining as after 35 overs, Australia sits just 49 runs from victory at 3/192.
In an unbeaten 145-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne, who is 41 not out off 84 balls, Head has been the aggressor and ripped the heart out of India.
12.31pm — India alive as Australia fall apart
This is not the way we wanted this to go …
Steve Smith is out for just four after he was wrapped on the pads by Jasprit Bumrah.
But Smith should be still batting as he was struck well outside the off-stump.
While it wasn’t a great call from the umpire as Smith pushed well outside the line and his finger was up almost before the ball had struck the pad, Smith didn’t review after consulting Travis Head at the nonstriker’s end.
Dinesh Karthik was celebrating in the commentary box, but said that Smith “would be regretting that”.
Ricky Ponting said: “When Steve Smith sees that replay, it’s going to break his heart even more.”
Shane Watson agreed: “My heart’s just broken after seeing that. That will break the Aussie hearts for sure.”
Karthik offered: “In a way, sadly, it sums up a little bit of the mind set as well. If it was a Test Match, I can promise you Steven Smith would have definitely thought about reviewing it because he is the most important wicket.
“I don’t know how he was convinced to not take the review today.”
12.19pm — India strike again
Jasprit Bumrah has struck and all of a sudden Australia are 2/41 in the fifth over.
Mitchell Marsh was looking solid, having launched a 90m six the over before off Mohammed Shami.
But despite getting solidly behind the ball, for his 15 ball stay, a lack of foot movement and a swing that would have disintegrated the leather off the ball if he’d middled it, caught the under-edge of the bat and saw Australia lose its second wicket.
12.01pm — Warner gone
This is a crazy start to the innings but David Warner is gone in the second over.
The ball is swinging wildly for the Indian quicks and Warner bit at a second one outside the off-stump.
The first ball of the innings was edged between first and second slip for four, when it could well have been snapped up by Virat Kohli.
But after 15 off the first over, a wide from Mohammed Shami was followed up by one swinging the other way, with Warner biting and steering it into the hands of Kohli for 7 off three balls.
It’s enlivened the crowd, who are back in full voice.
11.32pm — Indian first comes at worst time
India have set Australia 241 to win the World Cup after being bowled out for the first time this World Cup.
India’s top order have fired with the bat, leaving the bowlers very little to do.
But the Indian batting line up faltered, and were dismissed for the first time this tournament, when Kuldeep Yadav was run out going for two that was never there off the last ball.
Australia had a very good day in the field Mitchell Starc’s 3/55, Josh Hazlewood’s 2/60 and Pat Cummins’ 2/34 off their 10 overs.
Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell also took a wicket each.
However, there are plenty of questions still to come as the wicket has rapidly deteriorated throughout the match.
And there is dew expected, which would remove the reverse swing the Aussies so expertly employed as well as making it harder for the Indian spinners to grip the ball, as well as making the ball skid more.
The chasing team has won three of the four matches at the stadium this tournament — only Australia’s win over England was won by the team batting first.
And the results have been a 9 wicket win for NZ over England, seven wicket win for India over Pakistan, with the best part of 20 overs still remaining, and South Africa downing Afghanistan’s formidable spin attack by five wickets.
11.12pm — India nine down
Suryakumar Yadav is India’s finisher but couldn’t get going as Australia finally got their man.
Josh Hazlewood bowled a sharp bouncer, with the ball getting big on Kumar, as the ball dollied off the bat to Josh Inglis.
It’s 9/226 and India are a real chance at being bowled out.
10.56pm — Shami out in the scariest way possible
Good on you Australia — India at 7/211 after Mohammad Shami was dismissed caught behind.
But is anyone else worried about how that wicket was taken?
The ball appeared to deck back in off the pitch to catch the edge.
There’s plenty of movement out there and even with the dew set to come in, the pitch is looking very worse for wear.
Adam Zampa then took his first wicket of the match, trapping Jasprit Bumrah LBW for 1, moving his tally to 23 wickets for the tournament.
10.40pm — Rahul’s vigil finally over
Australia have finally dismissed KL Rahul, who struggled through his 107-ball 66.
A tremendous ball from Mitchell Starc ducked in and away, catching the edge and exposing the Indian tail.
Incredibly, he hit just one four in his 107-ball marathon.
It’s 6/203 off 41.3 overs — you feel the game goes the way of the team who win these 10 overs.
10.33pm — 10 overs to go …
It’s set up for an interesting finish to the first innings with India poised to strike at 5/197 with 60 balls left in their innings.
Fans and commentators alike are suggesting it’s a 250-270 pitch and like in the most recent Test series between Australia and India in India, it looks like there’s a fair bit of wear on the pitch for just 40 overs into the match.
While India scored 80 off the first 10 and it seems like it’s been slow going, Matthew Hayden said they were tough batting conditions.
“There’ll be a lot of viewers watching this at home and just going, ‘What happened? Why has there been this, what would seem like, a lack of intent?’ he began.
“You have KL Raul who has basically immersed himself in this match not really able to climb out of anything.
“I can assure you this is nothing but tough conditions for batting. Slow wicket. You saw right from the get-go, two nicks early, not even bothering to carry. Then you’ve got the spin through the middle. Now you’ve got the reverse.
“It’s been the full package of really difficult batting conditions.”
10.06pm — KL Rahul’s 86-ball 50
After an early onslaught, Australia have pulled India back remarkably well, with India batting at under five runs an over after 35 overs.
India at 4/173 with 15 overs left after Rahul brought up his half-century off 86 balls.
It’s a sign of how well Australia has bowled and fielded.
However, with wickets in hand, India appear to be set to launch late.
And while the dew is expected later, the pitch already appears to be degrading, meaning Australia may have its work cut out against Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav later on.
9.35pm — King Kohli’s chopped on
Virat Kohli is out — thanks to Aussie skipper Pat Cummins.
Cummins bowled a shorter one cramping Kohli for space, with the Indian maestro’s record setting World Cup with the bat finally ending as he chopped onto the stumps.
Pommy Mbangwe in commentary said it was “terrific” from Pat Cummins.
“The length he has generally bowled today, astounding the Indian fans, dismissed Virat Kohli, he said. “And it has been a simple plan, just bang the ball into the surface where it’s really difficult to time it.
“And the timing of the breakthrough as India try to build towards the back end of the innings. That says it all.
“Good leadership. Good bowling.”
Kohli out for 54 off 63 balls, finishing with a record 761 runs for the tournament at an average of 108.71.
The score is 4/148 off 28.3 overs.
9.25pm — Kohli brings up another 50
Virat Kohli is insane at the 2023 World Cup — he’s brought up his fifth consecutive 50 in the World Cup.
In fact, he’s only not hit 50 in the tournament twice, a 15 against Pakistan and duck against England.
But he’s also hit six scores of 80+ and is increasing his record tally for most runs in the tournament.
He joins Steve Smith from 2015 and his own 2019 self as the leaders for most consecutive 50s at a World Cup.
India move to 3/135 off 26 overs.
Kohli and KL Rahul have put on 54 but it’s taken 94 balls as Australia turn the screws.
8.20pm — Cummins and co. silence India
Pat Cummins has joined the party, catching an edge off Shreyas Iyer for four and India are 3/81 in the 11th over with Australia silencing the enormous Indian crowd.
While all you can see is blue around the stadium, suddenly the Aussies can hear themselves think as they silence the parochial crowd.
A few overs later, the commentators mentioned that the crowd had lost some of its sparkle.
“For the first time this crowd suddenly sensing that India are in somewhat of a bother,” Mark Howard said.
Dinesh Karthik agreed: “Things are looking ominous for Team India. They can hear a deathly silence in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium.”
8.15pm — Australia have Rohit!
Travis Head, you little ripper!
The Aussies have taken a second wicket with Indian skipper Rohit Sharma dismissed for 47 off 31 balls.
He thrashed four fours and three sixes in a brilliant start but Glenn Maxwell has earned the wicket.
A leading edge as Sharma looked to go straight down the field but skewed it out towards cover, with Head making a lot of ground and taking a difficult diving catch.
“One of the great catches under pressure you will ever see!” Ian Smith declared in commentary. “My goodness gracious me! Is that a game-changer? Australia might believe so.”
Sharma gave India a great start, with India now 2/80 off 10 overs after Shreyas Iyer arrived at the crease with a four.
7.55pm — Australia’s first chance goes begging
They say catches win matches but you have to be able to get there to make the difference — a lesson the Aussies have learned the hard way.
Everyone will remember Mitchell Starc’s first over beauty against Brendan McCullum in 2015 but the left-armer’s looking to make an early difference against India.
After a big appeal to ball clearly going down the leg side, Starc drew the first edge of the match off Shubman Gill got a thick edge that bounce before Josh Inglis and Mitchell Starc.
It’s clearly a bit of a slower pitch, which has raised plenty of eyebrows ahead of the match, and we got our first sign of just how slow it could be — and Marsh and Inglis are way too deep.
Or so Starc and Glenn Maxwell believe as they remonstrated with their teammates.
Starc screamed “c’mon”, while Maxwell appeared to say “Get up”.
Ex-England captain Nasser Hussain said the pair needed to move up.
“139k, wasn’t a slower ball, it was a genuine edge,” he said. “Again signs the lack of carry and pace in this pitch. They’re going to have to get close.
“Starc can’t believe it.”
Ricky Ponting also said that Australia hadn’t bowled enough short balls, saying: “They’re often hardest to play on these wickets that have little pace and little bounce.”
The first ball of the fifth over also saw the bounce stay low, making it tough for Inglis behind the stumps, despite going 142km.
“They have to come up,” Ponting said.
But the left-arm quick struck next ball as Gill hit it straight to mid-on for four — off a pull shot, as Ponting was calling for.
1/30 off 4.2 overs.
7.15pm — Australia win the toss and make a surprise choice
After all the intrigue about how this match would start following the all-important toss, Australian skipper Pat Cummins surprised many when he managed to win it.
“We’re going to have a bowl first … and back ourselves to chase whatever we need to,” he said.
“It seems like this venue has got better and better to bat, hope it’s the same today.
“Tough start to the tournament but we haven’t really put a foot wrong since.”
His Indian counterpart Rohit Sharma must have been delighted by that call after he was asked about Cummins’ decision.
“I would have batted first, good pitch, big game, put runs on the board,” he said.
It led to a mixed reaction from the Fox Cricket team in the studio.
“There you have it, that’s a big surprise boys,” host Brendon Julian said.
Former Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin took that reaction a lot further.
“I’m shocked,” he said. “I thought the Australians would have batted first, put runs on the board and let the final pan out from there.
“Rohit Sharma has obviously read the conditions a lot different to what (Australia) did.
“I thought Australia would have batted first.”
One who was fine with the call was former spinner Kerry O’Keeffe.
“The recent history at Ahmedabad is it’s not so bad chasing,” he said.
Another expert who raved about the Aussie decision was ex-Indian batter Sanjay Manjrekar
“Excellent decision by Australia and one of the reasons they are world champs because they know their stuff,” he said.
“This pitch, bowling first, the seamers will get some movement … and if you’ve got some good spinners you get some turn as well.
“Good decision, I think it’s a very, very sensible, smart call.”
6.45pm — Aussies have a settled side for massive final
While the Australian side went through a number of changes for a variety of reasons throughout this World Cup, the XI was finally settled by the time the finals came around.
Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh were among those that spent time out of the starting side, but Australia has come together at the right time and comes into this match with an unchanged team from the one that beat South Africa in the semi-final.
All-rounder Marcus Stoinis was the closest player trying to break into the team, but selectors have stuck with a settled line-up and David Warner made a surprise claim prior to the match the Aussies are under “no pressure”.
“It’s just a sea of blue isn’t it,” Warner said on Fox Cricket.
“You can feel it, it’s electrifying and I can’t wait for ball one.
“Me and ‘Heady’ will try to do what we do in the first 10 (overs), get a quick start and build a platform and hopefully one of us can go on.
“There’s no pressure on us here. We just want to deliver our best and hopefully the World Cup comes back to us.”
6.15pm — Aussie greats slam the Ahmedabad pitch
During a long build-up to the match, Fox Cricket had a camera pan over the pitch that will be used for this final.
There has been so much talk about the type of pitch the Indians would prepare for this match, having swung a late change for the pitch in the semi-final win over New Zealand.
It’s fair to say some Australian greats watching along were not impressed.
“Jeez it looks like there’s spike marks across the pitch,” said Aussie great Wark Waugh.
“It doesn’t look pristine does it? It looks like a worn pitch.
“That doesn’t look like a pure batting pitch to me. It looks like it could turn and could slow up.”
Former Test spinner Kerry O’Keeffe was also far from impressed.
“It’s a World Cup final,” he said. “I’d expect not to see a blemish on the pitch.”
There is also some talk India could include spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on what looks a low, slow, turning pitch.
2.30pm — India’s World Cup tactics reach new heights
If you thought the drama would be confined to the pitch, you were so very wrong.
Furore erupted when Aussie skipper Pat Cummins raised concerns about the pitch that was being prepared for the final.
Cummins’ concerns lay with patches in front of the crease at both ends which had not been watered to the same extent as the centre of the wicket.
It means spin could come into play more than it has throughout the entirety of the World Cup.
India took their tactics to new heights however with a move that left the Aussies completely high and dry.
Cricket journalist Bharat Sundaresan noted the Aussies had to go without facing a left-arm wrist spinner as the local who they previously used had “an upset tummy”.
The mystery illness coming on the night before the final against India wasn’t lost on cricket fans on social media.
WHEN IS THE FINAL?
The World Cup final between Australia and India will be played on Sunday November 19.
WHAT TIME DOES THE FINAL START?
The final officially starts at 7:30pm AEDT, with pre-match coverage kicking off from 6pm.
The coin toss takes place at 7pm AEDT
HOW TO WATCH THE FINAL
You can catch every ball from the World Cup Final LIVE on channel 501 and Kayo Sports.
According to Sportsbet, India are the favourites to win the World Cup and are paying $1.38 to win while Australia are $3 outsiders.
Originally published as Australia win Cricket World Cup as Travis Head ‘brokes a billion hearts’