It was always going to take something special for Australia to defeat India to win the Cricket World Cup — and they got precisely that from Travis Head.
Head put the Aussie order on his back to finish with 137 runs off 120 balls, and critically form an almost unbroken partnership with Marnus Labuschagne that took over when the game looked dire. The Australian batters took over at 47-for-3, and carried until Australia needed just two runs to win.
The ability to hoist the World Cup was wholly set up by the opening inning, which stuffed India’s prolific scoring potential and removed the team’s consistency. India’s one-two punch of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were dismissed for 47 and 54 respectively, but even prior to that the two best batsmen in this World Cup were unable to put up a solid run rate against the Australian bowling attack.
The Indian middle order collapsed without the two ace batsmen, setting up a modest chase of 240 for Australia at bat. This looked incredibly shaky initially, with David Warner, Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith only surviving a combined 27 balls. With three of the top bats for Australia gone, the sold-out Indian crowd was raucously celebrating in the stands, expecting to witness the home side hoist the trophy — but noise got progressively more silent as Head and Labuschagne stabilized the batting before surging ahead of the required run rate.
In our preview of the World Cup final I said that India would beat Australia 90 times out of 100 if these teams met, but the explosive potential from anywhere in the Aussie order could lead to a shock. That’s precisely what Travis Head brought to the table, and what ultimately led the visitors to a six wicket win.
This is now Australia’s sixth World Cup victory. Meanwhile India are left wondering what could have been after ending their brilliant 2023 World Cup with just one loss — but when it mattered the most in the final.