AHMEDABAD: Australia’s bowlers produced a masterclass to bounce back from a powerplay blitz and tie India in knots, restricting the tournament hosts to 240 all out in the first innings of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 final at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and chose to bowl first in Ahmedabad in front of a packed crowd. But it was India who got off to a flier, inspired once more by captain Rohit Sharma.
The early loss of Shubman Gill didn’t halt India’s attacking momentum, as Rohit and Virat Kohli racked up the runs in the first ten overs, with 80 runs coming in the first powerplay, equalling the record for a men's Cricket World Cup final.
However, the departure of the skipper for 47 from 31 balls was followed by Shreyas Iyer for 4 in the very next over, and the match took an abrupt turn from that moment on, as the runs dried up through the middle overs.
Looking to rebuild in the face of some excellent bowling on a tricky surface, Kohli and KL Rahul bedded in, ensuring India reached at least a competitive total.
Wickets fell frequently as Australia’s bowling attack looked to press home their advantage, and the final Indian wicket came off the last ball of the innings, with the total at just 240.
Pat Cummins’ 2/34 from ten overs summed up the effort from the Aussie pacers, with Mitchell Starc taking 3/55 and Josh Hazlewood 2/60. Adam Zampa provided good control through the middle, finishing with 1/44, while Glenn Maxwell’s 1/35 from six overs included the crucial wicket of Rohit.
The innings fell into two distinct sections. Nine fours and three sixes were struck in the first powerplay as India reached 80/2. But in the following 240 balls of the innings, there were no further sixes, only four boundaries and just seven twos – with all other runs coming in singles.
Rohit began in his characteristic aggressive fashion, unleashing a brace of fours in the very second over, and then hitting a six and four in the fourth. Even as Hazlewood was under the pump, his partner Starc managed to strike in the fifth over. A mistimed front foot pull brought the end of Gill for four.
The flow of runs didn't stop as Kohli set his eye in early, and hit a hat-trick of fours against Starc. However, India's aggressive run was halted once more towards the end of the first powerplay. Rohit mistimed a shot towards the off-side and Travis Head ran back from the covers and held on to an absolute stunner.
Soon after the first powerplay, the aggressive Shreyas Iyer also fell for a paltry score, nicking one behind the wicket. The boundaries dried up as India tried to re-settle after the early blows. They went at close to three runs an over between 11-15.
Kohli and Rahul continued the restructuring of India's innings. Cummins kept ringing in the changes amongst his bowlers to get a breakthrough, however, India managed to get to the mid-innings mark without another loss.
On the back of Kohli's fifth successive fifty in the Cricket World Cup, India seemed to be picking up pace. However, Cummins struck once more for Australia, employing a short ball against the batter, who ended up playing on.
This setback pushed India into defensive mode once more. Ravindra Jadeja, sent in at No. 6 ahead of Suryakumar Yadav to get the left-right combination going, was happy to knock the ball around the park along with Rahul. The latter reached his fifty in the 35th over mark. As the ball started to reverse swing, Australia's pacers found greater help from the wicket.
Hazlewood struck in the 36th over, getting Jadeja to nick one behind the wicket.
India eventually reached their 200 in the 41st over. The team needed a push to get them to a solid total.
But wickets kept on falling, and Jasprit Bumrah was next to depart, trapped in-front by Zampa, who finished with 1/44 from his ten overs.
And the silence was deafening from the crowd when Hazlewood picked up the key wicket of Suryakumar Yadav, who had bided his time until the last three overs before looking to go big, only to top edge one to the keeper.
The final-wicket pair looked to boost India in the death overs, and they took their team to 240 when Kuldeep Yadav was run out coming back for a second off the final ball of the innings.