Australia has clinched a sensational victory, triumphing over the odds and emerging as the champions of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in Ahmedabad. The mighty Aussies showcased their mettle by outclassing hosts India, the undefeated favorites, in a nerve-wracking final that had fans on the edge of their seats.
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In a stunning turn of events, Australia chased down the target with six wickets in hand, shattering the dreams of the passionate Indian supporters. The Narendra Modi Stadium witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions as the calm and composed Australian side, deemed as the underdogs at the tournament’s outset, created history by securing their sixth title, with others coming in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015.
Labuschagne and Head steal the show
The Australian run chase faced an early setback with the loss of three wickets, injecting an element of suspense into the game. However, the middle-order heroes, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, scripted a remarkable comeback. Head’s scintillating knock of 137 runs from 120 balls, combined with Labuschagne’s crucial 58 from 110 balls, paved the way for Australia’s triumphant journey to victory.
Captain Pat Cummins led his team with poise and determination, guiding them to glory against all expectations. The journey to the title was far from easy, starting with a clash against India in Chennai on October 8, 2023. In a déjà vu moment, star Indian batters Virat Kohli and KL Rahul orchestrated a stunning victory, setting the tone for the unpredictable twists and turns that defined this World Cup.
The final showdown in Ahmedabad mirrored the earlier encounter, as Kohli (54) and Rahul (66) once again tried to bail India out of trouble. However, a batting collapse on the grandest stage limited them to a modest total of 241 runs at the end of 50 overs. The relentless Australian bowlers, led by Mitchell Starc’s brilliant display of fast bowling (3-55 in 10 overs), showcased their dominance by consistently taking wickets.
Captain Cummins and seamer Josh Hazlewood played pivotal roles, ending with figures of 2-34 and 2-60 respectively in their 10 overs each. Their collective effort stifled the formidable Indian batting lineup, securing Australia’s well-deserved triumph in this thrilling edition of the Cricket World Cup.
Rohit’s aggression, Kohli’s brilliance, and Rahul’s resilience – India’s trifecta fades
India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, launched the innings in his trademark aggressive style, notching up an impressive 47 runs from just 31 balls. However, despite the fiery start by Rohit and the earlier brilliance of Kohli and Rahul, no other Indian batter could pose a significant threat to the formidable Australian bowlers on a pitch that offered a fair balance between bat and ball.
Expressing his disappointment after the loss, Rohit revealed that his team had “tried everything” but ultimately fell short. He reflected on the promising situation when Kohli and Rahul were at the crease, stating, “When KL [Rahul] and Kohli were batting, we were looking at 280 [runs].” However, the Australian team’s strong partnership turned the tide, snatching the game away from India’s grasp.
Despite the challenging circumstances, Rohit refused to lay blame on the pitch for his team’s batting display. He acknowledged that the pitch “definitely improved under the lights,” indicating that conditions evolved as the game progressed.
After the grandest stage of cricket blew the final whistle, Head emerged as the Player of the Match for his outstanding century, while Virat Kohli claimed the coveted Player of the Tournament title.
Kohli’s stellar performance throughout the tournament secured him the Player of the Tournament award. Amassing a staggering 765 runs in 11 matches, he showcased his batting prowess with three centuries and six half-centuries. Kohli maintained an exceptional average of 95.62, coupled with a strike rate of 90.31.
Semifinal sparks fly in pursuit of final glory
On Wednesday, November 15, at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Shami’s seven-wicket haul took him just 17 matches to reach this milestone—two games quicker than the previous record holder, Mitchell Starc of Australia. Shami’s magical bowling led India to a resounding 70-run victory over New Zealand in the first semifinal, extending the hosts’ unbeaten record to 10 ahead of the final against either Australia or South Africa, who clashed at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
Shami also secured India’s best-ever bowling figures at the World Cup, leaving a lasting impact on the cricketing world. In the same match, Virat Kohli further solidified his reign as the undisputed king of ODI cricket, achieving his 50th century in the format.
He reached the historic milestone off 105 balls, surpassing the longstanding record of most centuries in the format previously held by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for years. Sachin had amassed 49 centuries in 463 matches, while Kohli accomplished this extraordinary feat in just 291 matches and 288 innings.
In the second semifinal, Australia secured their place in the final against India with a nerve-wracking three-wicket victory against South Africa. Despite bowling out South Africa for 212, Australia faced a mid-innings wobble during their chase. Travis Head’s impressive 62 provided a rollicking start, but it was Steve Smith (30) and Jos Inglis (28) who played crucial cameos, guiding Australia to the target with 16 balls to spare.
Group stage unleashes ups, downs, and jaw-dropping surprises
India’s cricketing spectacle in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 saw surprising twists and turns, with England’s title defense crumbling early on. Expected to be India’s greatest threat, the defending champions, led by Jos Buttler, found themselves effectively out of the semifinal race while others were still finding their rhythm.
New Zealand, seeking swift revenge for their 2019 final defeat at Lord’s, delivered a resounding blow to England with a comprehensive nine-wicket win in the opening match. Despite a victory against Bangladesh, England endured a five-match losing streak, emphatically ending their trophy defense and jeopardizing their qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
To stay in contention, Buttler’s side needed victories against Netherlands and Pakistan. They emerged victorious, closing the door on Pakistan’s slim chances of reaching the semifinals.
Afghanistan, before this tournament, had only one 50-over World Cup win against Scotland in 2015. In India, they displayed remarkable prowess, defeating former champions England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka while dominating the Netherlands.
Australia, despite losing their first two matches, rebounded with seven consecutive wins. Maxwell’s heroic innings against Afghanistan, where he scored 201 not out on virtually one leg, secured Australia’s place in the semifinals, and then helped them gain the sixth title. Cummins labeled it as “the greatest one-day innings ever played,” with Maxwell’s explosive form showcased by a 41-run century against the Netherlands.
South Africa, long haunted by the “chokers” tag, made an early mark in the tournament, but fell short to make it to the final. Aiden Markram’s then-fastest century at a World Cup set the tone for a record-breaking campaign. South Africa posted the highest-ever tournament total of 428 in a 102-run win against Sri Lanka.
While South Africa could have been considered India’s greatest challengers in the semifinals, their earlier defeat to the hosts in a 243-run thrashing in Kolkata dashed those hopes.
Super league stars dim: Bangladesh’s bumpy ride
Bangladesh’s journey in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 concluded with an eighth-place finish in the group stage, a couple of spots below expectations. Their performance deviated from the impressive track record of not losing a bilateral ODI series on home soil from 2016 to 2023, albeit under different conditions than those in India.
Despite storming through the 2020-23 World Cup Super League to finish third, surpassing powerhouse teams like India, Australia, and South Africa, Bangladesh faltered in the World Cup. Batting and bowling struggles plagued the team throughout the tournament.
In the batting department, excluding Mahmudullah, each batter averaged below 33. For bowlers sending down 25 overs or more, none averaged below 36.