AHMEDABAD– An Indian captain ready to create a legacy of his own will have 10 ruthless professionals and a billion cricket maniacs for support when his team takes on five-time champions Australia in a winner-takes-it-all World Cup final on what promises to be a ‘Super Sunday’.
Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin know the feeling of winning a ODI World Cup back and Rohit Sharma himself was in the thick of things at the ‘Bull Ring’ in Johannesburg when India won their maiden T20 World Cup in 2007.
But the final on Sunday will be completely different. It won’t just be a mere cricket tournament that needs to be won but also caring about the emotions of all those invested in the game. Rohit and his mates have time and again said that they don’t care about the outside noise but it is this outside noise that has made the game and this team relevant.
All the stakeholders — the fans, who treat these players as ‘Demi Gods’, the broadcasters who spend a bomb buy Indian cricket telecast rights and the sponsors, who support the game — all want the game to thrive and survive.
When Kapil Dev’s toothy grin at the Lord’s balcony melted fans’ hearts in 1983, it was the beginning and no one knew which direction the road ahead will lead us to. When Dhoni hit that winning six in 2011 World Cup final, it was more about a final reiteration that the ‘Mecca of Cricket’ has shifted long back and everyone needed to take a bow and accept Indian domination.
Circa 2023, Indian cricket team will not just be looking to win a third ODI global title but also look at saving the ’50-over format’ which has been battling identity crisis for at least five years now.
An Indian victory will give the format the injection it needs.
No team has ever won a World Cup with 11 victories on the bounce and even England had lost to Pakistan en route their global triumph in 2019. Rohit indeed has a date with history since if the team manages its 11th win on the trot it will be difficult to break the record.
Australia Plot Ways To Silence Indian Crowd
It was not known if Pat Cummins was searching ‘How to silence a big, partisan crowd’ as the Australia captain entered the press conference room fiddling with his phone but he conceded that was pretty much the plan for the World Cup final against India.
As if India’s formidable batting lineup and fiery bowling attack were not handful enough, Australia will also have to deal with boisterous Indian fans, who will be egging on Rohit Sharma and his team on Sunday. Not a single seat in the 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium is likely to stay unoccupied when five-time champions Australia clash with an India side who are unbeaten in the tournament.
Cummins said the best way to overcome a challenge like that was to embrace it.
“The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“You’ve just got to embrace every part of a final … you know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed.”
Beaten comprehensively by India in their opener, Australia strung together eight wins in a row to make the final against India, who have a perfect 10-0 record in the tournament.
“We know it’s going to be a packed house. There’s going to be 130,000 fans here supporting India. So it’s going to be awesome,” Cummins said. “They’ve been playing really well, undefeated this tournament. But we know at our best we can give them a good shake.”
Much of it will depend on how their new ball pair of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood fare against India’s top order.
Cummins felt Australia were yet to play a “complete game” in the tournament and hoped they have preserved it for the summit clash. “There have been no huge wins. We’ve had to fight for every win, but we’ve found a way to win,” Cummins said.
“I’m taking that confidence, knowing that we don’t have to be at our absolute best to challenge any team, we can find a way through it.”
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