2023 Cricket World Cup final: Australia beat India by six wickets to claim sixth men's title

2023 Cricket World Cup final: Australia beat India by six wickets to claim sixth men's title

Travis Head struck a magnificent, match-winning hundred as Australia claimed a record-extending sixth men’s Cricket World Cup title, breaking Indian hearts with a six-wicket win over the tournament hosts in the final in Ahmedabad.

Head's superb 137, off 120 deliveries, helped rescue Australia from 47-3 early on in their chase of 241 to win as he became only the sixth player to score a century in a men's World Cup final, following in the footsteps of Sir Clive Lloyd (1975), Sir Viv Richards (1979), Aravinda de Silva (1996), Ricky Ponting (2003), Adam Gilchrist (2007) and Mahela Jayawardene (2011).

Mohammed Shami (1-47) had picked up David Warner (7) with his first ball, while Mitchell Marsh (15) and Steve Smith (4) both departed in the face of a superb opening spell from Jasprit Bumrah (2-43).

But Head and the uber-watchful Marnus Labuschagne (58no off 110 balls) saw off the danger and, with batting becoming progressively easier under lights as the game wore on, they shared in a 192-run stand as Australia cruised to victory, Glenn Maxwell smashing the winning runs with his first ball after Head perished two shy of the winning line.

Earlier, KL Rahul (66 off 107) top-scored for India, while Virat Kohli (54 off 63) chipped in with a half century but the innings lost its way after a blistering, boundary-laden 31-ball cameo from skipper Rohit Sharma (47) at the top of the order.

Rohit cracked three sixes to go with four boundaries as 80 runs were reaped from the opening 10-over powerplay after India were put into bat by Australia - Kohli too contributing four fours in that period.

But Rohit departed to the fourth ball of the 10th over, Head claiming a terrific catch running back from cover, and Shreyas Iyer (4) was gone to the second ball of the 11th. The scoring dried up massively thereafter, with only four boundaries scored over the remaining 40 overs of the innings!

Kohli and Rahul rebuilt, adding 67 for the fourth wicket, but slowly, and the Narendra Modi Stadium was silenced when the former was bowled by Pat Cummins (2-34), chopping onto his stumps, when deceived by the lack of pace in the surface.

With Kohli's dismissal coming in the 29th over of the innings, and given India's lack of all-round options in their lower order, Ravindra Jadeja and Suryakumar Yadav, along with Rahul, were forced to bat cautiously.

As they looked to build a platform from which to launch later, Rahul reaching his half century in the process, Australia's seamers managed to find some helpful reverse-swing. Josh Hazlewood (2-60) exploited it perfectly to pick up Jadeja (9), while Mitchell Starc (3-55) claimed the key scalp of Rahul with one that straightened from round the wicket and found the edge.

India's total had only just edged past 200 when Rahul departed, with more than eight overs left to bat, and with just a collection of their bowlers left to join Suryakumar at the crease to try and scramble to a match-winning score.

In the end, the tail offered precious little and Suryakumar (18) would glove Hazlewood behind in the 48th as India were eventually bowled out for 240 off the final ball of their 50-over allocation.

Early in Australia's reply, Bumrah's double-wicket opening burst, along with Shami's first-ball dismissal of Warner, appeared to swing the game firmly back in India's favour.

Each breakthrough was greeted by deafening celebrations inside the stadium, but all had an element of good fortune about them. Shami and Bumrah, who each beat the edge with regularity in supremely skilful spells of fast bowling, actually claimed the wickets of Warner and Marsh, respectively, to a couple of short, wide long-hops.

As for Smith, he'll have been hugely frustrated with himself for failing to review his lbw decision in the eighth over, the ball shown on replay to have struck him outside the line.

In the end, it mattered not. Head, who struggled against the seamers early on, just about survived the opening bursts of Bumrah and Shami, then got his eye in against the ineffective spinners - Kuldeep Yadav (0-56) and Jadeja (0-43) both held wicketless - and cruised to a magnificent fifth ODI century.

Shortly after smashing the returning Bumrah back out of the attack with three boundaries in an over, Head's magic moment arrived in the 34th over, while he celebrated by smacking Jadeja into the stands in the next for the second of his four maximums (to go with 15 boundaries) in the innings.

Labuschagne brought up a richly-deserved half century of his own off 99 balls, to end the 40th over, before Maxwell struck the winning runs with seven overs to spare after Head perished late on, holing out in the deep off Mohammed Siraj (1-45).

Australia captain Pat Cummins:

"You have to be brave to win a World Cup. You can't wait for it to happen. You have to be brave and take the game on.

"We saved our best for last. The players stood up and were are pretty chuffed. This is a year we will remember for a long, long time.

"My heart was fluttering [at 47-3] but Marnus (Labuschagne) had a cool head straightaway and Trav [Head] did what he does.

"He is really brave, takes the game on, puts the pressure back on the bowlers, and to do it on the biggest stage shows a lot of character.

"I couldn't be happier for Trav. He is a legend."

India captain Rohit Sharma:

"We were not good enough today but I am really proud of the way we have played since day one. Today was not our day.

"We tried everything but it wasn't supposed to be. We got early wickets but Australia stitched a partnership and took the game away from us."

Sky Sports Cricket's Nasser Hussain:

"Australia always find a way and this has to go down as one of the great World Cup wins.

"India were undefeated and playing the best cricket in the tournament, all their players were in form, and 120,000 fans were expecting to turn up and watch India stroll to their third World Cup win. That was some performance.

"It was a brave decision from Cummins to bowl first at the toss.

"A weak captain would make a decision that, if it goes wrong and you lose, it makes you look less bad. But he made a really brave decision and the right decision.

"He absolutely nailed it. He nailed everything today: field placements, bowling changes. Everything was spot on."

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