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regular-article-logo Friday, 23 February 2024

Within the Big Fight, the many duels that are likely to frame the 2023 ICC Men’s World Cup Final

India, the only unbeaten side in the tournament, enter the final with an aura of invincibility; Australia on the opposite end represent a cricketing powerhouse with a history etched in gold

Subharup Das Sharma Published 19.11.23, 10:19 AM
India’s captain Rohit Sharma and Australia’s captain Pat Cummins pose with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 trophy ahead of its final match between India and Australia

India’s captain Rohit Sharma and Australia’s captain Pat Cummins pose with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 trophy ahead of its final match between India and Australia X/ICC

This Super Sunday World Cup 2023 Final clash between so-far unbeaten India and Australia promises a duel for the ages, a winner-takes-it-all showdown that is simply over the top in scale. And cricket aficionados from across the world await a spectacle at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium.

At the helm of the Indian juggernaut stands Rohit Sharma, a captain crafting his legacy with each audacious stroke. The Hit-Man at 36 carries the weight of unfulfilled World Cup dreams and, come November 19, faces what could be his last dance on the global stage. His journey from a precocious, talented teenager to a selfless leader who places the team above personal milestones is well-chronicled.

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Rohit's recent exploits in the World Cup, characterized by a relentless attacking approach and the sacrifice of personal glory for the team's greater good, underscore his commitment to unfinished business. The journey from being a spectator to a maestro, as narrated by his childhood coach Dinesh Lad, reveals the quiet self-confidence that has defined Rohit's career.

His impact extends beyond the scoreboard, as he leads a team where individuals flourish under his leadership. Shubman Gill's resilience, Shreyas Iyer's triumph over personal demons, and Mohammed Shami's resurrection from initial exclusion to a wicket-taking juggernaut all bear testament to Rohit's captaincy.

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On the opposite end of the pitch stands Australia, a cricketing powerhouse with a history etched in gold. Post-Sandpaper Gate, the Australians have undergone a cultural metamorphosis, emerging as a reformed force with an indomitable spirit. Captain Pat Cummins, observed meticulously inspecting the pitch and strategizing, embodies the ruthless yet respectful ethos of the new-era Aussies.Cummins is well aware of the power of a 130,000-strong crowd cheering for India. The Aussies, with a penchant for thriving on big occasions, present a formidable challenge to India's aspirations.

Chessboard of cricketing duelsRohit Sharma vs. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood: At the forefront of this clash stands India's dynamic captain, Rohit Sharma, a maestro who has embraced a fearless, attacking approach. His dance down the track and audacious strokes have defined the tournament. Now, facing the probing deliveries of Starc and the seam movement of Josh Hazlewood in the opening powerplay, Rohit's ability to set the tone for India's innings becomes a pivotal subplot.

Shami vs. Left-handed openers: With 23 wickets in six games, Mohammed Shami has emerged as India's wicket-taking force. His impeccable seam position has been particularly effective against left-handed batters. In this crucial match-up, Shami is likely to target the formidable left-handed opening pair of David Warner and Travis Head, aiming to disrupt Australia's solid foundation.

Virat Kohli vs. Adam Zampa: The leading run-scorer of the tournament, Virat Kohli, faces a cerebral challenge against leg-spinner Adam Zampa. With Zampa having dismissed Kohli eight times in the past, this battle in the middle overs holds the key to India's batting stability. Kohli's ability to decode Zampa's variations and control the middle overs will be pivotal for India's success.

Kuldeep Yadav vs. Glenn Maxwell: In a battle of guile and audacity, Kuldeep Yadav's left-arm wrist spin collides with Glenn Maxwell's innovative stroke play. Maxwell, known for his unorthodox shots, poses a unique challenge. If he manages to unleash his full array of shots, Kuldeep will need to summon all his skills to disrupt Australia's middle-order rhythm.

David Warner vs. Jasprit Bumrah: A contest within the larger battle is set to unfold as David Warner, Australia's leading run-scorer, faces the precision of Jasprit Bumrah's bowling. Bumrah, with his lethal yorkers and recently added outswinger, aims to dismantle Warner's attacking prowess.

India's unbeaten streak vs. Australia's aspirationsIndia, the only unbeaten side in the tournament, enters the final with an aura of invincibility. The synergy between stalwarts like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and emerging stars like Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer has resulted in a near-flawless campaign. The resurgence of Mohammed Shami, the consistency of KL Rahul, and the all-round brilliance of Ravindra Jadeja add layers to India's formidable lineup.

The verbal battle: As a prelude to the finals, both captains provided intriguing insights into the dynamics of the imminent clash. The anticipation is intensified by Cummins' acknowledgment of the challenges posed by the raucous Indian crowd and Rohit's keen focus on maintaining composure in high-pressure situations. Cummins also revealed that they have meticulously studied India's strengths and devised a game plan based on that.

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Rohit underscored the significance of staying grounded amidst the feverish excitement, emphasizing the need to treat the final as just another game. He acknowledged Australia's historical dominance in the tournament but asserted that past achievements wouldn't determine the outcome of this high-stakes encounter.

Summing up

Australia, with a renewed team culture under Cummins, stands as the only team to have achieved consecutive title triumphs. The “Ugly Aussies” of the past have morphed into a skilled unit that can put India under immense pressure. The dropped catch of Virat Kohli in their opening game remains etched in Cummins' memory, highlighting how slender the margins are in cricket's grand theater.

As the clock ticks down to the final, the significance of the match transcends individual glory and team triumphs. It symbolizes a chance for India to rejuvenate the 50-over format, reassert its dominance, and etch a lasting legacy. For Australia, it represents an opportunity to add another chapter to its storied World Cup journey and showcase its cricketing prowess on the grandest stage.

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