With the help of Travis Head’s incredible century, Australia defeated India to win the World Cup for the sixth time, quieting more than 110,000 home supporters in Ahmedabad.
The hosts advanced to the final with a perfect record, brushing off all opponents—including Australia in their first group match—but lost by six wickets in front of a sizable but progressively dejected audience at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
After being sent in on a slow pitch, they managed to make a respectable 240 all out, one run less than New Zealand and England shared in the Lord’s spectacular four years prior, but Head took the game away from them with a brilliant 137 from 120 balls.
On a worn field, Head played with aggression, inventiveness, and confidence, leaving nearly every other batter unable to match his level of fluency.
The 29-year-old missed Australia’s first four games of the season due to a fractured left hand, so he arrived late to the game. However, the selectors’ faith paid off handsomely when he improved on his player-of-the-match performance in the semi-final against South Africa.
Watching from the other end as the score slipped to 47 for three, he slugged four sixes and 15 fours as he dominated a 192-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out).
Head deserved to carry his bat but fell with two runs needed, caught in the deep looking to end it in style, allowing new man Glenn Maxwell to hit the winning runs.
This completed a remarkable year for Australia, which had already seen them win the World Test Championship—again against India—and keep the Ashes. It also validated another chapter in the country’s great history as an ODI team, joining the 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015 squads in raising the trophy.
The winning captain, Pat Cummins, made the right decision to put the hosts in at toss and took a crucial two-for-34 haul, while Mitchell Starc set the standard for a superb bowling performance with three for 55.
The opening skirmishes were appropriately exciting, with India losing both openers and smashing 80 off the first 10 overs.
After Shubman Gill mishandled a pull-off Starc, the Indian skipper Rohit Sharma displayed his
He unloaded a handful of fierce blows, with three sixes in his rapid 47, but perished going for one big hit too many off Maxwell’s first over. He offered a tough catch arcing over cover, but Head kept an eagle eye on it to start his memorable day.
Cummins chipped away another when Shreyas Iyer was lbw before a painstaking stand of 67 between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. Their time together was tough going, with a solitary boundary in 109 deliveries as Australia exerted admirable control of foreign conditions.
Both batters made gritty half-centuries – tournament top-scorer Kohli doing so for the ninth time in 11 knocks at the World Cup – but neither converted their platform. Kohli dragged Cummins back into his stumps searching for width on 54, and Rahul nicked Starc behind for 66 as the ball began to reverse.
That was the first of five wickets for 37 in the closing stages, India all out courtesy of a run out from the last ball of the innings.
David Warner nicked the first ball of the chase between first and second slip for four, but India picked up to put themselves right in the hunt.
Warner nicked Mohammed Shami behind chasing a ball he had no business playing, Mitch Marsh departed with similar carelessness against Jasprit Bumrah, and linchpin Steve Smith accepted an LBW decision that would have been overturned by DRS.
India, and their supporters, were pumped up but found Head unfazed. With a solid start behind him, he took the bull by the horns, slog-sweeping Kuldeep Yadav for six in the 16th over and making steady inroads into the slender target.
He had an answer for everything, making light of Shami’s return to the attack by smashing his loosener back down the ground for a one-bounce four and peeling off muscular pulls when the seamers went short.
With Labuschagne content to play the supporting role, Head tucked in. He took the target below 100 by whipping Shami behind square and under 50 with a mighty six off Ravindra Jadeja.
His century, the third by an Australian in a World Cup final after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, came off a rare misjudgment as he almost ran himself out dashing a single.
By then the job was all but done, Head denied the tournament-winning moment when he picked out Gill on the ropes but was rightly mobbed by his team-mates as they basked at the moment.