May 30, 2024, 3:23 pm

Sports Correspondent

2023-11-20 01:16:08 BdST

Australia win record sixth WC titleHead century propels Australia to World Cup glory

All-round Australia showed their brilliance in every aspect of the game to thump hosts India by six wickets and clinch a record-extending sixth World Cup title at Narendra Modi Stadium Sunday.

India pacers started superbly while defending 240 and shook the Australia top-order initially as David Warner (seven), Mitchell Marsh (15) and Steve Smith (four) went back to the pavilion within the first seven overs.

Chasing a tricky 241 for victory in the final, left-handed Head hit his second century of the tournament to steer the team home with seven overs to spare.

Australia's Travis Head held his nerve while surviving some close deliveries and played a magnificent innings of pure class to shut India’s chances of winning a World Cup in front of the home crowd of 125,000 fans in the biggest stadium of the world.

Head's knock and his marathon stand of 192 with Marnus Labuschagne, unbeaten on 58, ended India's dominant run of 10 unbeaten matches at the event.

Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs to trigger wild celebrations in the Aussie camp.

Head smashed 137 runs off just 120 deliveries and clubbed boundaries all over the park with his counter-attacking approach against a world-class Indian bowling attack who had rattled their opponents in the previous 10 games.

Head hammered 15 fours and four sixes in his match-winning innings and was adjudged player of the final.

"Just thrilled to be a part of it," said man-of-the-match Head who only joined up with the squad following a period of rehabilitation after he broke his hand in South Africa on the eve of the tournament.

"It's a lot better than seeing the World Cup on the couch at home (on his hand injury). I was a little bit nervous but Marnus played exceptionally well and soaked all the pressure."

The tournament’s leading scorer with 765 runs, Virat Kohli took home the player of the series award.

Both the teams remained unchanged from their semi-final lineup.

India's chances of ending a global trophy drought since their 2013 Champions Trophy win went up in smoke once Head got going with Labuschagne.

Big credit goes to Marnus Labuschagne (58* off 110) as well as the right-hander stabilized the innings when Indian pacers were breathing fire in the first spell and formed an excellent 192-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Head.

It was a masterclass from Head-Labuschagne.

Head was the calculated counter-attacker and Labuschagne a rock solid presence at the other end under pressure which took Australia to yet another World Cup trophy.

Head's century was the seventh in a World Cup final and third by an Australian after Ricky Ponting (140 not out v India in 2003) and Adam Gilchrist (149 v Sri Lanka in 2007).

"The result hasn't gone our way and we know that we were not good enough on the day. But proud of the team," said India captain Rohit Sharma.

"With 240 on the board, we wanted early wickets but credit to Travis Head and Marnus. They put us completely out of the game and I thought the wicket got better to bat on under lights."

The bowlers set up victory for an Australian side that bounced back after two losses to win nine in a row as Mitchell Starc (3-55) and Pat Cummins (2-34) helped bowl out India for 240.

India hit back when Mohammed Shami shared the new ball with Jasprit Bumrah and struck on his second delivery to get David Warner caught behind for seven.

But it was Bumrah's double strike in quick succession that raised the roof as he had Mitchell Marsh caught behind for 15 and Steve Smith lbw for four.

Head stood firm with Labuschagne for company to thwart the Indian attack despite Rohit rotating his bowlers in a desperate hunt for a breakthrough.

'Unbelievable' achievement

Head hit a match-winning century against New Zealand in the team's sixth league game and after a few low scores made an attacking 62 in the nervy three-wicket semi-final win over South Africa in Kolkata.

He proved to be India's nemesis a second time this year after his 163 proved decisive in Australia's World Test Championship triumph at The Oval in June.

Head reached his 100 in 95 balls and raised his bat to an applauding Australian dressing room.

"What we've achieved today is unbelievable," said Labuschagne.

"It's the best achievement I've ever been part of. India have been the team of the tournament, but you know if you play your best cricket, you have a chance. Our bowlers were sensational and Travis put on one hell of a display."

Warner said: "Our bowlers were fantastic, they set the tone from ball one. The fielding supported that."

Australia elected to field first and the players backed up Cummins' decision with disciplined bowling and impressive fielding.

Skipper Rohit Sharma made a blistering start and set the tone for India early, just like the way he has batted all through the tournament.

Mitchell Starc broke the opening partnership in the fifth over as he removed Shubman Gill (four) but Rohit continued to score boundaries in real quick time, keeping the run rate high for India.

Cummins brought Glenn Maxwell into the attack within the first 10 overs and that surprise move paid off as Rohit lost his wicket in the fourth ball of the 10th over.

The Indian captain (47 off 31) tried to clear the boundary by stepping down the ground right after hitting a six and four in the previous two balls.

It went high in the air after a top edge and Head covered a lot of ground to take a brilliant diving catch from point to send Rohit back to the dressing room.  

Cummins then dismissed the in-form Shreyas Iyer (four) just four balls later with a superb delivery as Australia got right back into the game with two quick wickets within four balls.

India were 81 for three after just 10.2 overs when Iyer got out but after that, the Aussie bowlers bowled their heart out.

The visitors hardly dished out any lose delivery to restrict India with some magnificent fielding efforts by all their fielders.

Kohli and Lokesh Rahul stitched together a 67-run stand for the fourth wicket but that partnership came in almost 18 overs with only one boundary scored during that period.

Cummins notched the important scalp of Kohli (54 off 63) in the 29th over right when the partnership looked promising.

Rahul held one end until the 42nd over before getting out scoring 66 off 107 balls but regular wickets fell and restricted India to 240.

Australia bowling attack was on the spot as Starc took three wickets, Josh Hazlewood and Cummins two each and Maxwell and Adam Zampa one apiece.

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