Despite all odds, Australia’s unwavering belief in their ability to defeat India prevailed.
After the World Cup finale on Sunday, it was evident that the Australian team had a specific moment that stood out in their minds. “The memory of being at 0 and 2 after the match against Sri Lanka, when we were at 120 runs, seems like a distant memory now,” remarked a grinning Mitchell Starc, as his teammates gathered in anticipation of the trophy ceremony while dramatic music played over the PA system.
Pat Cummins, the captain, also mentioned that match: at a certain moment, Sri Lanka’s opening batsmen had scored 125 runs by the 22nd over against a team that had previously been defeated by India and South Africa. In our analysis following those two losses, it was clear that time was running out for Australia. “In terms of numbers, Australia’s journey in the World Cup is not in a crisis yet,” we stated. “However, something must happen to give this team a boost and make them embrace the challenge instead of being intimidated by it.”
David Warner, who is typically a fielder closer to the center of the field, played on the boundary during this campaign. Despite being almost 37 years old, he was in excellent physical condition. He made two crucial catches that led to the first three Sri Lankan wickets falling. He ran fiercely along the boundary with his short legs moving quickly and fearlessly jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball, regardless of how hard he landed. With two catches and two wickets, Warner helped Australia stay competitive in the game.
Adam Zampa’s second wicket proved to be a crucial moment for the leg-spinner, who had been struggling up until that point. He immediately recognized the impact of his performance after the match ended. The team had been feeling flat in the first two games, but they made an effort to boost their energy and morale during drinks breaks and with early wickets. The fielders did a great job of maintaining a tight ring and David Warner’s two catches were game-changing moments.
Australia is aware that their recent performance could have resulted in three losses and potentially being eliminated from the tournament. However, they were able to turn things around by bowling out Sri Lanka for 209 and successfully chasing the target. Even if they had suffered a third or fourth loss like New Zealand, they could have still qualified, but their momentum was crucial in securing wins.
Warner led them through the following games, joining forces with Mitchell Marsh and later Travis Head. They swiftly defeated Pakistan before the actual match even started, ensuring a victory against the Dutch and dominating New Zealand in an impressive display of batting rarely seen in one-day cricket. The bowling may not have been exceptional, but their runs were sufficient.
The Australian bowlers successfully defended a reachable score against England, with Starc getting an early wicket and Cummins and Zampa performing well in the middle. Glenn Maxwell’s impressive performance saved the team from a difficult situation against Afghanistan, with support from Cummins. Despite already qualifying, Marsh single-handedly led Australia to victory against Bangladesh in the group stage.
After that, the focus shifted back to the bowlers, with Starc leading the charge in the semi-final by taking early wickets once again. His partner, Josh Hazlewood, was the backbone of the bowling attack throughout the tournament, consistently performing well even when faced with aggressive batting. Despite South Africa being known for their strong batting, Hazlewood and Starc were able to make it seem weak, only allowing 10 runs in the first eight overs and taking wickets. Despite South Africa’s efforts to bounce back, the game was ultimately out of their reach at that point.
Australia had every reason to feel reassured heading into the final, even if they only kept it to themselves. The difficulty of the climb was established, and the incline was unfavorable. However, they possessed a team where each member had played a part in previous victories, with Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, and Steve Smith contributing runs in the middle order. They were confident in their chosen eleven, despite considering other arrangements. And they had nothing to risk except for a match that was predicted to be in their favor.
They chose not to. They bowled first and used a wet cloth on India’s strong batting lineup, which only managed to hit four fours in 40 overs after the fielding restrictions ended. Just like Warner’s catch in Lucknow and the opening spell in Kolkata, that was the key moment of the match.
Travis Head successfully hit the boundary 15 times and also cleared it four more times, adding to his impressive record of big-game performances. Despite being a part of a strong Australian team and even being former World Cup champions, this moment stands out as the pinnacle. The odds were heavily against them, with India expected to win, but the Australians, who had a less successful campaign leading up to this moment, defied expectations and emerged victorious.