Dubai: Australia didn’t have the momentum early in the World Cup after arriving in India on the back of a three-match losing streak against South Africa and lost the three-match One-Day International series to India 2-1. The two losses in the first two games against India and South Africa, further worsened their case.
But the Australians can never be written off. The five-time champions found their winning form and never looked back after nine consecutive victories that culminated in winning their sixth World Cup trophy, which showed their character.
The Australians defeated South Africa in the semi-finals and India in the final, the only two teams they have lost in the league stage.
“I think we saved our best for the last. A couple of big-match players stepped up and chuffed. Today, we thought it was a good night to chase and thought it would be easier to chase,” skipper Pat Cummins told at the official broadcasters at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The victories didn’t come on its own, there were some hard decisions to be made and it paid rich dividends. When Travis Head was nursing an injury, the management decided to keep in and the left-handed opener played the match-winning innings in the final. Head suffered a fracture when he was struck on the hand by a Gerald Coetzee delivery during the fourth ODI against South Africa.
Fortune favours the brave and the Australians were lucky to win the toss, but they also made the right decision and were rewarded for opting to chase in a final.
“The pitch was slower than I thought and didn’t particularly spin and we bowled tight lines. We have an ageing side but everyone throws themselves around. Chuffed with keeping them to 240 — anything under 300 really. I was one of those blokes with the hearts fluttering, but Head takes the game on. I think the selectors backed him even when he had a broken hand. It’s a big risk and it paid off,” the skipper added.
Second win over India
Australia have managed to beat India for the second time in a final after defeating Men in Blue in the Test World Championship final in England earlier this year.
It was a day to remember for Head, who was adjudged the player of the final for his 120-ball 137 that took the match away from the hosts. The breathtaking calculated counter-attack didn’t give Indian team any chance to break the 192-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Marnus Labuschagne until almost late in the match, when the World Cup was within Australia’s grasp.
“What an amazing day. Just thrilled to be a part of the win. It’s a lot better than seeing the World Cup on the couch at home. I was a little bit nervous, but Marnus played exceptionally well and soaked up all the pressure. I felt the way Mitch [Marsh] took the game on set the tone and that was the energy we wanted. It was a great decision to bowl first and the wicket got better as the game went on. It paid dividends and nice to play a role,” Head said after becoming the third Australian to score a century in the final after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.
“Not in a million years did I think that would happen,” he said, adding “Rohit Sharma was probably the unluckiest man in the world. I do work hard on my catching, but I couldn’t imagine holding onto that catch,” Head said about the spectacular catch that ended the threatening innings of Indian skipper Rohit Sharma.
For Labuschagne, his participation in the World Cup is just short of a miracle. He came into the picture after Head suffered a fracture.
“I’m very thankful to them for sticking with me. I don’t have many words to explain. Few months ago, I wasn’t even in South Africa in the one-day team; and to play 19 games straight is truly a miracle,” said a teary-eyed Labuschagne. It is not the first time the Australian batter is seeing miracle happen. The middle order batter became the first concussion substitute in Test history when Steve Smith was hit on the head by a Jofra Archer bouncer.
Labuschagne grabbed the chance to score a half-century to cement his place in the Australian Test team.
“What we’ve achieved today is unbelievable. It’s the best achievement I’ve ever been part of. Just to come to India and with 10 wins from, they’ve been the team of the tournament. They’ve played unbelievably. But we knew if we played our best cricket, we had a chance. Our bowlers were sensational, and then Travis display.”