The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi walks onto the stage, grin fixed in place, and hands the World Cup trophy to Pat Cummins. They pose for photos and then Modi strolls off to shake hands with some of the Australian players.
Cummins stands alone on the podium, looking a bit awkward, probably wondering what the hell kind of coronation this is. A ridiculous scene – but eventually his mates join him and he lifts the trophy as high as his weary muscles will allow. Australia are world champions yet again, and they have achieved it in a manner that brooks not a solitary argument. Onyer, ondem.
It’s time to wrap up the OBO for today, and indeed the 2023 World Cup. Even a relatively modest tournament has left us with dozens of vivid memories: Virat Kohli’s 50th hundred, Angelo Mathews being timed out, Ibrahim Zadran’s historic century, Mohammad Shami the human statgasm, Glenn Maxwell’s double hundred, England being fried in Mumbai against South Africa, the spine-tingling elegance of Rachin Ravindra and many more.
The abiding memory is usually the last one. This time it’ll be Travis Head pulverising an all-time-great bowling attack and Australia winning an apparently unwinnable final at a canter. It’ll be a while before anyone writes them off again.
On behalf of all the OBO writers, thanks for your company and emails throughout the tournament. And don’t worry, there’s a 20-over World Cup next year.
he abiding memory is usually the last one. This time it’ll be Travis Head pulverising an all-time-great bowling attack and Australia winning an apparently unwinnable final at a canter. It’ll be a while before anyone writes them off again.
On behalf of all the OBO writers, thanks for your company and emails throughout the tournament. And don’t worry, there’s a 20-over World Cup next year.
Travis Head’s World Cup in numbers
109 off 67 balls v New Zealand
11 off 10 v England
0 off 2 v Afghanistan
10 off 11 balls v Bangladesh
62 off 48 v South Africa
137 off 120 v India
That’s 329 runs at an average of 54.83, with a0 strike rate of 128. He also took key wickets in both knockout games. Heinrich Klaasen with the ball, Rohit Sharma with a stunning catch. Yet he still bumbles along, happy to live in the shadows when he’s not killing dreams out in the middle. Yet Head was player of the match in the semi-final, the final – and the final of the Test Championship. He’s the phenomenon next door.
The player of the match is the utterly wonderful Travis Head
Not in a million years [did I think this could happen]. What an amazing day, I’m just thrilled to be part of it. It’s a lot better than sitting on the couch at home. Very lucky that everything went well with my rehab and I was able to get back here.
I was a little bit nervous for the first 20 balls but Marnus played exceptionally – it’s awesome to bat with him, he soaks up the pressure, and it was just an amazing partnership.
Mitch Marsh set the tone for us, even if he didn’t take it on. It was a great decision to bowl first. The wicket took a bit of spin but it got better as the day went on. It’s gonna be an amazing couple of days now.
[You’re the third Australian to get a World Cup hundred after Ponting and Gilchrist. How does that feel?] I’m definitely third on that list*. It’s nice to be here, nice to contribute… I said to the boys, I’m looking forward to the reunion!
* Oh no you’re not sunshine
The Australia captain Pat Cummins speaks
I think we saved our best for last. A couple of big-match players turned up and we’re pretty chuffed. We batted first for most of the tournament but we thought it was a good night to chase and that it might get a bit easier to bat. Everyone was pretty keen to get out there [in the field].
The pitch was slower than I thought and didn’t spin as much as we expected. Everyone adjusteed well and bowled some tight lines. [On the fielding] It started last week against South Africa; the boys were fantastic. We’ve got an ageing side but everyone threw themselves around.
We were really chuffed with keeping India to 240. We’d probably have been happy with anything under 300. I was pacing upstairs [at 47 for 3] but the partnership was magnificent. Marnus came in and showed a cool head straight away and Trav just does what he does. Really brave again: he takes the game on, puts the pressure back on the bowlers, and to do it on the biggest stage shows a lot of character.
It was a big risk we took [picking Head in the squad with a broken hand] so credit to the selectors and the medical staff. I couldn’t be happier for Trav. He’s a legend, we love him – and how fun is he to watch?
I was happy the crowd was silent for most of the bowling innings. A couple of times they got loud and it was really loud. IT’s fantastic: the passion in India is unrivalled. You looked around and everyone was wearing a blue shirt. Whatever happened we were never gonna forget today.
[On Australia’s recovery after losing their first two games] You’ve got to go and win a World Cup, you can’t just wait for it to happen. You’ve got to be brave at times and take the game on. There was a rteal shift, particularly in our batting, after those first two games. The openers were really aggressive after that. There was a total buy-in from everyone, and in the end it worked.
We’ll remember this year [Test Championship winners, Ashes retained, World Cup winners] for a long, long time. It’s been awesome. We’ve spent pretty much the whole Aussie winter away. We’ve had a lot of success but this pips it all. This is the top of the mountain.
Overall, this has been a poor World Cup, culminating in a final that may have been decided by the toss. That won’t matter one bit to Australia’s team of champions, who were the last men standing yet again.
There are some spectacular images in this gallery
The Indian captain Rohit Sharma speaks
We were not good enough today. I’m really proud of the team, how we played from game one. It just wasn’t our day. We tried everything, but it wasn’t supposed to be.
When Virat and KL were batting we were looking at 270-280, but we kept losing wickets after that. We needed to stitch a big partnership, which is exactly what Australia did.
When you have 240 on the bad you have to take early wickets. We got three and we thought another wicket then would open up the game. Credit to Travis Head and Marnus, they took it away from us.
I thought the wicket got slightly better to bat on under the lights. I don’t want to use that as an excuse – we didn’t bat well enough.
“Has the time come to rework Gary Lineker’s famous adage about football and the Germans?” says Colum Fordham. “Cricket is a (relatively) simple game – 22 men or women hitting, bowling and chasing a ball for a considerable amount of time and, at the end, the Australians (almost always) win.”
Couldn’t cope with Bazball though could they Absolutely. I think one of the TMS commentators said the same thing after the semi-final. There were written off by so many people after the first two games – “too old”, “don’t like it up ‘em” – and here they are again, back on the podium.
It’s time for the presentation. Fair to say Ravi Shastri is no longer doing his Michael Buffer impersonation. There are a few shell-shocked Indians on the podium, though Sachin Tendulkar is still able to summon a smile.
“The Aussies won this in the field,” says Chris Paraskevas. “From the minute Ravi Shastri’s Michael Buffer impersonation ended, they were at it… proactive and all expecting the ball to come their way. How many runs did they save? A figure of 50 was touted but I’d say more. Hard to think of a fielding performance that has so affected such a big game.”
“Watching the India players slowly deflate showed the flip side of home advantage,” says Niall Mullen. “For so long you think that you are destined for this but then destiny deserts. It must be difficult/impossible to find the energy you need to rise again.”
Nasser Hussain, who knows of what he speaks, is praising Pat Cummins on Sky
It started with the toss… the weak captains make a decision that, if it goes wrong, makes them look less bad. That was a really brave decision. Pat Cummins absolutely nailed everything today: field placements, bowling changes. That was a magnificent win.
“Today is proof positive that the best team doesn’t necessarily win the tournament,” says Simon McMahon. “Though I’m sure India will get over it more quickly than Scotland did after Argentina 78.”
India’s 10-year wait for an ICC trophy goes on. In that time they’ve had a number of desperately disappointing defeats, including a Champions Trophy final, two World Test Championship and two World Cup semi-finals. None come close to this.
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami and Suryakumar Yadav will never play another 50-over World Cup. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj will be 33 in 2027, KL Rahul 35, Kuldeep 32. We love a bit of ostentatious empathy at Guardian Towers but I don’t think it’s possible to understand the breadth of the despair they must be feeling right now.
Imagine how alive they felt at this precise moment
“Surely the ultimate Usual Suspects reference would be Maxwell against Afghanistan?” says Dave Moore. “I can’t feel my legs, Kaiser…”
Match report: Australia win the World Cup
AUSTRALIA WIN THE WORLD CUP FOR THE SIXTH TIME!
Australia win by six wickets with 42 balls remaining!
43rd over: Australia 241-4 (Labuschagne 58, Maxwell 2) Glenn Maxwell pulls his first ball for two and the Australian squad all charge onto the field, growling with delight. Fireworks go off almost apologetically.
This is their sixth World Cup in the last 10 tournaments. No other team has ever won more than two.
“Bazball is yesterday’s news,” writes Showbizguru. “Welcome to Headbanging.”
Very good. The funny thing is that he predates Bazball. I don’t think Ben Stokes has explicitly said as much, but the way he talks about bowling to Head in that 2021-22 Ashes series makes you think he was a bit of an inspiration to Stokes. Eff fear, eff failure, that’s four.
“Typical Australians,” says James Gladstone. “Don’t they know it’s just plain rude to turn up at somebody’s party, start shouting, vomit up over the new carpet and leave the bathroom in a state… They need to be told.”
Australia, bloody hell. In 2021 they were humiliated by England in the group stage of the World T20 and won the tournament. A few months ago they were battered from pillar to post by England and regained the Ashes. And now, after losing their first two games of the World Cup to India and South Africa, they have beaten both in the knockout stage to win the bloody thing yet again. Oh, and they’re Test champions as well.
Travis Head is the player of the match by a country mile – not just for his astonishing 137 but arguably the key moment of the entire tournament, the stunning catch to dismiss a rampant Rohit Sharma.
In November 2021, Travis Head was a solid international batsman, relatively anonymous. Then he was recalled for the first Ashes Test and decided ‘bugger this relative anonymity’ and launched Travis Head 2.0. Since then he has been world cricket’s barnstormer-in-chief. He’s a helluvan advert for a change of mindset.
An emotional Marnus Labuschagne – the guy behind the guy today, the man with nine lives across tshe tournament – is speaking to the host broadcaster
Mate, it’s the best achievement I’ve ever been part of. India have been the team of the tournament, they’ve been unbelievable, but… you know, if we played our best cricket we’re a chance.
I’m a man of faith, I believe in God, and the way things have panned out for me in this tournament has been unbelievable. Three months ago I wasn’t even in the squad for South Africa, so to play 19 games straight is a miracle. I’m lost for words. The amount of times I thought, “I’m done”. Even last night, the team wasn’t named until about 10 to 10. My eyes went to the ground.
Mohammad Siraj is in tears, with Bumrah trying to console him. India will have a thousand bittersweet memories from an extraordinary tournament; I doubt they will ever truly get over this. As was said earlier, it’s cricket Maracanazo. I never thought I’d use Travis Head and Alcides Ghiggia in the same sentence.
WICKET! Australia 239-4 (Head c Gill b Siraj 137)
There’s a hushed silence around the ground; empty, confused faces. They will be put out of their misery any second now.
Travis Head flogs a short ball from Siraj over mid-off for four. With two needed, he tries to finish the match in style but holes out to cow corner. He walks off wearily, tongue hanging out, and is warmly congratulated by the Indian team.
He played the innings of his life: 137 from 120 balls with 15 fours and four sixes. Those numbers make it look like a typical Head assault but it was much subtler than that.
42nd over: Australia 231-3 (Head 130, Labuschagne 57) The Australian dugout are all grinning like Jack Nicholson back in the day. Just as in 1999, they’re recovered from two very early defeats to win every game.
In a sense, 1999 was harder as there was less margin for error. But they didn’t have to beat the unbeatable in the final. This task was the cricketing equivalent of the boat heist in the Usual Suspects, and they’ve all come out alive.
Fifty for Labuschagne!
40th over: Australia 225-3 (Head 128, Labuschagne 53) Bumrah returns. It’s too late, he should have extended his second spell. Labuschagne flicks him four to bring up his 17th Test-match fifty from 99 balls. It’s been a serene, almost flawless innings.
I may be misremembering this as it was quite a complicated situation, but I’m not sure Labuschagne would have made the squad but for Travis Head breaking his hand. Now they’re together in the middle, casually winning the World Cup
41st over: Australia 230-3 (Head 129, Labuschagne 57) You have to wonder what impact the new-ball demotion had on Siraj’s confidence, never mind giving him too many overs in the middle of the innings.
Labuschagne helps him round the corner for another boundary. India scored only four fours after the fourth over; Australia have hit four sixes, and 16 fours. The dew has helped but it has still been an immense performance.
39th over: Australia 219-3 (Head 127, Labuschagne 48) Ravi Shastri is commentating, and he sounds like somebody who has just been given the dreaded news by the vet. Before the game it was hard to see Australia winning; it was impossible to see them battering India like this.
Labuschagne’s role has been so vital – he’s hit only two boundaries, one off the edge, but with Head playing such a commanding innings, his only job has been to hang around and rotate strike. I also think his first 10 or 20 balls were crucial; not that he survived them so much as the assurance with which he did so. It was the first suggestion that Australia might be able to withstand an unprecedented storm.
“This is a cross between the Maracanazo of 1950 and West Germany beating Hungary in 1954: the most dominant World Cup run ever, ruined in front of a home crowd,” writes Daniel Harris. “Incredible.”
Heh, quite, although the pedant in me would argue Australia’s 2007 run was even more dominant, regardless of today’s result.
38th over: Australia 214-3 (Head 125, Labuschagne 45) Same again! Kuldeep tosses one up, so Head pummels it over wide long on That’s his fourth six to give with 14 fours. Another thing that makes Head’s innings even more impressive is that he was all over the place in the first few overs.
It would have been so easy to keep swinging and pray, knowing he coul use the ‘it’s the way I play defence’. But he dug in – at one stage he made 2 off 19 balls, riding his luck along the way – and waited until batting got a little easier. And then a lot easier.
37th over: Australia 204-3 (Head 117, Labuschagne 43) A dream is dying in front of 130,000 people. The new bowler Siraj is pulled mightily over midwicket for six by Head, who is doing to India’s World Cup dream what Gerald Coetzee did to his hand a couple of months ago. That injury and subsequent layoff makes this innings even more remarkable.
36th over: Australia 195-3 (Head 109, Labuschagne 42) “Second World Cup final in a row with a slow, difficult wicket,” says Luke Dealtry. “Are batsmen ever selected for what they can do on this type of pitch? Trying to think of the kind of batsman that can use their timing and power to dominate in these conditions. Stokes eventually came good in the last final but it was tough even for him.”
Well, one player was picked for a pitch like this, and he’s currently 42 not out. I know what you mean though. I find it odd that people say the 2019 final was superior to the 1999 semi-final. The greatest finale, no question, but for 95 overs it was a prosaic game.
TRAVIS HEAD MAKES AN AMAZING HUNDRED!
34th over: Australia 185-3 (Head 100, Labuschagne 41) Head launches Kuldeep over the leg side for successive boundaries. Two more down the ground takes him to 99 – and then he reaches his hundred with an absurdly risky single! He would have been miles out with a direct hit.
Head lives on the edge, so in that sense it’s apt he reached his hundred with such a dodgy single, but actually this innings has been notable for his management of risk. He has surely never played with such destructive power and maturity.
With an extremely respectful nod to Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Aravinda de Silva, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Mahela Jayawardene, this is the greatest hundred in a men’s World Cup final: 95 balls, 14 fours and one six. If he sees it through, it’ll have a case for being the greatest ODI innings ever played.
35th over: Australia 192-3 (Head 107, Labuschagne 41) Head’s in a hurry now. He slog-sweeps Jadeja mightily for six more, and the usual singles bring the target down to 49 from 90 balls. Jadeja, a potential matchwinner, finishes with figures of 10-0-43-0. That’s drinks.
All tournament, we’ve been looking to the past for statistical similarities and precedents. Well, my friends, this is becoming the 1996 final in reverse, and Head is playing Aravinda de Silva.
33rd over: Australia 174-3 (Head 89, Labuschagne 41) Head hacks Jadeja to cow corner, one of only two singles in the over. He has 89 from 90 balls, Labuschagne 41 from 81. His role is crystal clear.
“Not sure if it’s been commented on,” says Jon Salisbury, “but a marked difference in the desperation of the two sides to save boundaries.”
What makes Australia’s fielding even better is that most of them are in their thirties. That first 10 overs against South Africa was among the most exhilarating team displays of fielding I can recall.
32nd over: Australia 173-3 (Head 88, Labuschagne 40) Kuldeep replaces Bumrah to no great effect. Rohit has been a giant all tournament, with brain and bat, but I think he’s been too defensive here.
Now, if you were to ask me to name three great World Cup batters, who delivered when it really mattered, I wouldn’t say Richards, Kohli, Ponting. I’d go Head, Boon. Brearley.
Labuschagne is not out!
31st over: Australia 170-3 (Head 87, Labuschagne 39) Jadeja continues. At this rate Siraj will have to bowl his last seven overs off the reel.
There are four dot balls in a row to Labuschagne, though that’s no issue for Australia. Head is stealing the show but he couldn’t have done this without Labuschagne’s soothing presence. The pressure and noise when he came to the crease were like nothing he has ever experienced.
Australia need 71 from 114 balls. India can still win this – I wouldn’t want to be a new batter in this atmosphere – but time is running out.
30th over: Australia 167-3 (Head 86, Labuschagne 37) Bumrah produces two superb yorkers that are dug out, one by each batter. That’s his seventh over done. I’d give him at least two more if that’s what it takes to get a wicket. In this atmosphere a spectacular collapse is always possible – but only if they break this partnership very soon. No point saving Bumrah’s overs for when Australia are 210 for three.
“The best team never to win the World Cup is definitely West Indies, 1983,” says Taimur Khan Jhagra. “The only team that lost the final that no one would ever have believed on the day, ironically, defeated by India.”
Yep, fair point. They beat everyone apart from India by huge margins.
29th over: Australia 163-3 (Head 85, Labuschagne 35) Three from Jadeja’s over. Pat Cummins’ surprising decision at the toss looks increasingly like a stroke of genius.
Breaking news: Jasprit Bumrah is bowling
27.3 overs: Australia 156-3 (Head 79, Labuschagne 34) This is it, Bumrah or bust for India. Head hits his first ball for four, just as he did when Shami came back. It was a slower ball, I think, and Head chipped it emphatically over midwicket.
Bumrah deflects a straight drive onto the stumps, but Labuschagne was back in his crease. And then Head does it again, lasering Bumrah’s third ball down the ground for four. A nervous start aside, Head has played one of the great World Cup final innings – not least because he had to seriously modify his usual approach. Who needs role clarity?
28th over: Australia 163-3 (Head 84, Labuschagne 35) Australia ran a leg-bye on that LBW appeal, the penultimate ball of the over, and Head added bleach to the wounds with a whirling pull for four more. Bumrah’s comeback over goes for 14, and Travis Head is playing with the most intimidating certainty: 84 from 79 balls with 12 fours and one six.
27th over: Australia 148-3 (Head 71, Labuschagne 34) Four more singles off Jadeja, the third of which brings up an exceptional, increasingly serene century partnership in 20 overs.
“How are you?” says David Bowen, before getting down to brass tacks. “I’m currently in a child’s soft play in a converted warehouse on an industry site on the eastern outskirts of Cardiff where the air is tinged with urine and hate, I’ve paid £25.50 for the privilege of use and American Pie is blasting from the speakers. Needless to say I’ve had better Sunday afternoons. But surely the Indian team and nation would be in a worse place should they fail to win this World Cup in which they have been magnificent throughout.”
They would win the dubious honour of being the best team not to win a World Cup. Who is it at the moment? England 1992? South Africa 1999?
India review for LBW against Labuschagne! It was a blistering yorker from Bumrah, and it looks really close. This is the game, right here.
26th over: Australia 144-3 (Head 69, Labuschagne 32) Marnus Labuschagne, the old rogue. As Geoff Lemon pointed out on the TMS preview, Labuschagne has had about seven stays of execution in this tournament, for a variety of reasons. And here he is, when it matters, doing what he does best.
A classical extra cover drive off Shami brings his first deliberate boundary. It’s not just the runs that are important: his watertight defence calmed Australia down when all hell was threatening to break loose.
The moment I mention Labuschagne’s permanence, he top-edges a lazy hook that teases Bumrah at fine leg before dropping short. But another good over for Australia ends with a sizzling pull for four by Head. Never mind big hundreds in Ashes openers and World Test Championship final: this could be the innings of his life.
Australia need 97 from 24 overs. I cannot believe India are hiding their genius at fine leg.
Thanks for all your emails, by the way. I am miles behind, for obvious reasons, but will read as many as I can.
25th over: Australia 135-3 (Head 66, Labuschagne 27) Head is surprised by some extra bounce from Jadeja – but the edge flies through the vacant slip cordon for four more. Four low-risk singles prompt Ian Smith, on commentary, to wonder why India haven’t brought the field up. It feels like they are waiting for a wicket rather than actively seeking it.
“Maybe getting ahead of myself here,” says Nick Parmenter, “but trying to work out what home sporting final would have caused a bigger heartbreak than this should India lose. I can only think of Brazil 1950.”
Yeah, Scott Murray, who knows more about that game than almost anyone alive who wasn’t there, mentioned the same when India started to wobble with the bat. Hard to think of any other comparisons. But it hasn’t happened yet.
24th over: Australia 127-3 (Head 59, Labuschagne 25) Rohit Sharma turn to Mohammad Shami, the most reliable wicket-taker in the tournament. Head slams his first ball down the ground for a one-bounce four, another nerveless statement of World Cup-winning intent.
India are starting to look lost, though one wicket would change all that. Either batting is getting easier under the lights or Head and Labuschagne are playing obscenely well. Australia need 114 from 26 overs.
About three weeks ago I told anyone who would listen that only Travis Head could stop India winning the World Cup. If Australia win, I’ll forever cherish the moment my broken clock told the right time.
23rd over: Australia 122-3 (Head 54, Labuschagne 25) There is a bowling change – but it’s Jadeja who comes on, and he’s milked efficently for five singles. India are under pressure like never before in this tournament.
“‘Hey Kat, how did you spend the last day of your holiday?’” begins Kat Petersen. “‘Sitting in my hotel room glued to the cricket, obviously.’
“This is acceptable, right? Please tell me it’s acceptable.”
Depends where the holiday is. If you’re anywhere in England, fair enough. But if you’re on the Galapogos Islands, we need to talk.
21st over: Australia 110-3 (Head 49, Labuschagne 18) A high bouncer from Siraj is flogged to the midwicket boundary by Head, who is playing beautifully now.
India need a wicket with increasing urgency. I know it might leave him short later in the innings, but Rohit surely needs to go back to Bumrah or Shami for a couple of overs.
Fifty for Travis Head!
22nd over: Australia 117-3 (Head 50, Labuschagne 23) Head waves Kuldeep for a single to bring up a crucial fifty from 58 balls. It’s been a three-paced innings, and an increasingly authoritative one. In the circumstances, and given Head’s death-or-glory approach over the last couple of years, this has developed into a remarkably mature innings.
Labuschagne gets his first boundary with a big edge through the vacant slip cordon. India need Bumrah right now.
20th over: Australia 104-3 (Head 44, Labuschagne 17) Labuschage is beaten by a wrong’un from Kuldeep, but it’s another good over for Australia: five from it. They’ve quietly edged back in front, though there will surely be at least another twist or 12.
19th over: Australia 99-3 (Head 43, Labuschagne 13) Head makes room to lash Siraj to the cover sweeper for a single. Labuschagne steals another on the off side to bring up a blood pressure-reducing fifty partnership from 71 balls.
“Possibly good news for Bumrah: Joel Garner didn’t play ODIs with a white ball,” says the admirably pedantic Bob O’Hara. “His last game was in 1987, and the white ball was first used in 1992. But I don’t know (= I can’t be bothered to check) if he used a white ball during a Packer series.”
Yep, I should have said “limited-overs bowler”. Alas, the last time I was truly able to think straight was sometime in February 2011, so I had no chance when it was all going off in the Powerplay of a World Cup final.
18th over: Australia 95-3 (Head 41, Labuschagne 11) Kuldeep continues after the drinks show, conceding a couple of singles. This is exactly why Australia picked Labuschagne, to score 11 not out from 32 balls in a fraught runchase.
“The VAR comment was meant as a joke, apologies,” says Tim Woods. “Clearly I needed a better delivery.”
On the contrary, you did unto me as Bumrah did unto Smith with that slower ball.
17th over: Australia 93-3 (Head 40, Labuschagne 10) Mohammad Siraj replaces Jadeja, who bowled a good spell of 3-0-11-0. Australia will surely target Siraj, who usually takes the new ball but will have to bowl 10 of the last 34 overs today. He’s still a serious handful; he just isn’t Bumrah or Shami, or Jadeja and Kuldeep on a dry surface.
Head smashes the first ball to short extra cover, where Kohli makes a brilliant – and brilliantly nonchalant – stop. Head gets one away later in the over, flashing a back cut for four. A mistimed pull lands well short of Suryakumar in the deep; the resulting single takes Head into the forties.
Time for drinks and a light show. We’ve all earned one. “If I were you,” says Krishnamoorthy V, “I’d have forwarded the VAR email to Mikel Arteta.”
16th over: Australia 87-3 (Head 35, Labuschagne 9) Selective sloggery from Travis Head, who sweeps Kuldeep handsomely for six. That’s a brilliant shot, and this is turning into an impressively slow innings from Head. He has had moments of fortune – Bradman would have needed the same against this attack – but he has played with striking maturity.
“Smith’s decision not to review could be critical,” says Tim Woods. “Surely it’s time for cricket to learn from football and review every decision? Time to put an end to these match-changing controversies.”
Surely it’s not practical; over-rates are already far too slow. Also, the idea that anything or anyone could learn from VAR makes my head swell in confusion.
13th over: Australia 71-3 (Head 23, Labuschagne 4) Labuschagne has to bat deep, like his opposite number KL Rahul. Easier typed than done.
He tries to cut a quicker one from Jadeja and is beaten. That aside it’s a peaceful over for Australia, who have been pummelled to all four corners of the ring in the last nine overs.
“I feel for your reader watching alone in Seattle,” writes Colum Fordham. “Here in Naples, it is only when Sri Lanka have got into World Cup finals that the football-mad city has taken note of cricket’s popularity, displayed by the thriving Sri Lankan community here. Otherwise, following cricket in southern Italy is a pretty lonely experience, buoyed only by the odd get-together with fellow ex-pat fans. I still feel this final may go down to the wire.”
15th over: Australia 78-3 (Head 27, Labuschagne 8) Another over with four singles for Australia. Labuschagne has slowed down the heart rate of this game, for now.
“I’m an Indian supporter,” says Deepak Puri. “I need a lie down.”
14th over: Australia 74-3 (Head 25, Labuschagne 6) Travis Head is playing a hybrid innings. There have been a few lusty slaps but his tempo has been much slower than expected. That’s not a criticism – he couldn’t keep swingingn haymakers with Australia three down inside seven overs.
Four singles from Kuldeep’s second over. The run-rate isn’t an issue – Australia need 167 from 36 overs at 4.64 – but wickets are.
“I’m not sure if Smith’s non-review was due to his personal history – the terror of being labelled selfish and above his team mates – or rather his once amazingly unerring eye now being somewhat fallible,” writes Gervase Grene. “Fact is, any batsmen with his record would usually always know where his stumps are, and where his pads are in relation to them.”
It was all a bit strange. Perhaps, because he was so emphatically beaten, he lost his bearings and didn’t want to add to any embarrassment by wasting a review. This atmosphere isn’t exactly conducive to clarity of thought either. That said, live I thought it was in line and therefore plumb.
12th over: Australia 68-3 (Head 22, Labuschagne 3) Replays show that delivery from Jadeja to Head turned too sharply and would have missed leg stump.
The left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav comes into the attack. Labuschagne continues his Test-match innings by driving a couple of singles to long on to move to 3 from 14 balls. Head tries to pull a short ball but cloths it to midwicket. It feels like the net is closing around Australia. But dew, lovely dew, will give them hope.
11th over: Australia 65-3 (Head 21, Labuschagne 1) Ravindra Jadeja replaces Bumrah, who bowled an irresistible spell of 5-2-21-2. And that’s after a perfectly decent first over disappeared for 15.
Jadeja starts around the wicket to Head and has consecutive LBW appeals turned down. The second was more of a celebrappeal – but Rohit Sharma decides against a review. It straightened sharply and looked a very good shout. Too high perhaps? We haven’t seen ball-tracking yet.
“So, we know Smith is not out but it stays out,” says Ian Copestake. “I guess technology is not used in cricket to provide the correct decision but to allow humans to feel even worse for their poor judgements.”
That last sentence – what have smartphones got to do with the World Cup final?
10th over: Australia 60-3 (Head 19, Labuschagne 0) Travis Head, the most attacking ODI opener in the world, was numbed into strokeless for half an hour. After scoring just two runs from the previous last 19 balls, he hits Shami for back-to-back boundaries. The first was steered deftly wide of slip, the second clubbed to the right of mid-on.
Head tries to make it three in three and almost drags a cut onto the stumps. This is so good.
“Hi Rob,” says Brian Withington. “Please let Saurya Chakraborty (feeling forlorn in Seattle) know that he is never alone when following along with the OBO community.”
If you want to know true loneliness, be an Australian batter right now.
9th over: Australia 51-3 (Head 10, Labuschagne 0) Marnus Labuschagne might be the biggest batting geek on the planet. Find someone who loves you the way Labuschagne loves batting, and all that.
I wonder if he’s enjoying this. He has never batted under such pressure in his life – but he defends very solidly to use up another over from the rampant Bumrah. No runs off the bat, but Australia got four byes when a slower ball went through KL Rahul. Even the keeper-batsmen can’t pick it.
8th over: Australia 47-3 (Head 10, Labuschagne 0) After two very loose overs, Shami has found his rhythm. Head throws everything at length delivery outside off stump and is beaten yet again, so he defends the remainder of the over. It’s been an innings of two halves: 41/1 in the first four overs, 6/2 in the next four. I’m not sure there’s a batting line-up in history that could cope with this.
“Pressure eh?” says Gary Naylor. “Might make Keith Miller revise his view.”
Steve Smith has gone for four, trapped in front by a huge off-cutter! It was a slower ball, the first of the innings, that took Smith completely by surprise. He considered going upstairs but decided against it – the best he was getting was ‘umpire’s call’ so there was no point risking a review.
WICKET! Australia 41-2 (Marsh c Rahul b Bumrah 15)
To say Bumrah deserves this would be the understatement of the tournament. He has bowled magnificently – and yet it’s a poor ball that takes the wicket. Marsh threw everything at a very wide short ball and bottom-edged it through to a gleeful KL Rahul.
Marsh goes for a testosteronic 15 from 15 balls. And now for something completely different: Steve Smith.
6th over: Australia 42-2 (Head 9, Smith 0) Head survives an impassioned LBW appeal from 130,000 people when he plays back to Shami. Rohit Sharma decides not to review, thinking it’s missing leg. It looked close because it hit him on the back pad, but the dramatic inwing was probably taking it past leg stump.
Head is usually an incorrigible aggressor but even he seems to have numbed into watchfulness. A safe single down the ground takes him to nine from 13 balls, which includes just one run off the last nine.
Smith defends the rest of the over, though the last ball keeps a bit low. I think India are on top now.
5th over: Australia 41-2 (Head 8, Smith 0) Bumrah’s first over went for 15, even though he bowled pretty well. His response: two overs, one run, one wicket. I never thought there would be a better white-ball fast bowler than Joel Garner; Bumrah is starting to run him close.
4th over: Australia 41-1 (Head 8, Marsh 15) Shami took a key wicket but he hasn’t bowled well with the new ball. Another leg-side wide beats Rahul and goes for a couple of runs.
Marsh, who has an outstanding ODI record against India this year (average 62, strike-rate 122), blasts a magnificent six over wide long-off. I’d get Siraj on for Shami at this end, maybe even Jadeja.
“What a great game we’re looking at now,” writes Andy Bradshaw. “Also, England cricket fans have a massive dilemma.”
Are you trying to get me sacked?
3rd over: Australia 29-1 (Head 8, Marsh 6) This is the storm before the calm, because the pace will drop as the ball gets older and Smith and Labuschagne go to work.
Marsh is beaten, trying to cut consecutive deliveries from Bumrah. The first was an absurd, computer-game outswinger; you can’t be doing that in real life. A single brings on Head on strike, and he is also beaten twice by beautiful deliveries. That’s an awesome response from Bumrah, who could have three wickets already. Instead he has figures of 2-0-16-0.
2nd over: Australia 28-1 (Head 8, Marsh 5) Mitchell Marsh almost goes first ball, inside-edging a big drive wide of leg stump for a single. The ball is swinging lavishly, so much so that Shami swerves one down the leg side for four wides.
Shami overcompensates next ball with a wide delivery outside off stump that Marsh leathers over cover for four. This is pulsating stuff.
WICKET! Australia 16-1 (Warner c Kohli b Shami 7)
The atmosphere is astonishing. My TV has never produced noise like this in its life. Warner chased a very wide delivery and toe-ended it to slip, where Virat Kohli took a really smart catch to his left. That’s a beautiful catch in fact.
1st over: Australia 15-0 (Warner 7, Head 8) There’s some extravagant early swing for Bumrah. Warner waves a square drive for three more, which brings Travis Head on strike. Bumrah moves round the wicket to Head, who blasts his second ball thrillingly through extra cover for four and clumps his fourth to the same area for another boundary! Bumrah’s first over, largely excellent, has disappeared for 15.
“India lost nine wickets going at four an over like it was a John Player Special League match introduced from Canterbury by Peter West,” writes Gary Naylor. “Worse, they ceded the initiative to the Australian ODI team, historically one of sport’s greatest front runners. Now the top six can play in their comfort zones – Warner, Head, Smith and Labuschagne like it’s a Test match (bonus – without second slip) and Marsh and Maxwell knowing that 90 minutes from either of them will probably win the match. Nous has trumped adrenaline so far – Solar Panel Pat should be hammering that message home now.”
I have no idea whether you’re right to be so critical, but it’s going to be loads of finding out.
WICKET! Kuldeep run out Labuschagne/Cummins 10 (India 240 all out)- Australia need 241 to win.
50th over: India 240-10 (Siraj 9) Siraj swings at Hazlewood’s second ball – beats Starc at mid-off and bisects the rope. Pent up applause erupts, as does the DJ, whose best lines must be still in the box. All round the stadium, people prepare their phones for the last ball – Kuldeep goes big, isn’t caught, but is run out going for the second. How apt that it should be Cummins who knocks off the bails – brilliant bowling (2-34), inspirational captaincy.
0.1 overs: Australia 4-0 (Warner 4, Head 0) Warner edges the first ball between first and second slip for four! It came at catchable height – but Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill left it to each other.
Are you ready for another heart-stopping World Cup final runchase? Me neither, but it’s about to happen: Jasprit Bumrah to David Warner.
“I’ve stayed up overnight in Seattle to follow the game,” writes Saurya Chakraborty. “It’s a strange feeling to be up at this ungodly hour and following along solo while almost everyone I know back home is huddled around in large groups and no doubt completely unconcerned by the death of the format and indeed a World Cup which has felt high on sheen and (almost) completely absent of drama.
“Sitting here by myself, I’m unable to shake off the innate weirdness of watching what has felt more like a pageant than an actual sporting contest. Maybe this unnecessary rumination is a consequence of watching alone? Maybe these marquee events are meant to be social experiences, and I’m violating a basic tenet of the sporting spectacle by doing this to myself. Not many folks watch the Super Bowl alone either.”
Thanks Tanya, hello everyone. I’ll start with an apology to William Goldman.
Nobody knows anything… Not one person in the entire cricket world knows for a certainty what’s a good score in this World Cup. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.
After 24,398 runs, 725 wickets and one Timed Out, the 2023 World Cup may well be decided by the Ahmedabad dew. If it takes effect as Australia hope, they are strongish favourites. If not, India’s score could be enough on a tinder-dry surface – if, and it’s an elephantine if, they stop Travis Head and David Warner getting off to another flyer.
There are loads of ifs and only one near certainty: the first 10 overs of Australia’s runchase will be spectacular. Travis Head and David Warner start ferociously at the best of times, but on this surface it’s even more important that they extract every last boundary from the Powerplay. India only scored four fours in the last 40 overs.
It’s the irresistible force versus the irresistible force. Australia have scored at 6.6 an over in the Powerplay; India’s majestic seam attack have gone at 4.3 ad taken 21 wickets. Something’s got to give. And when it does, we’ll have a pretty good idea who is going to win this game.
So India finish just one short of the total in The Greatest Final of All Time. Australia were superb today – fielded like the perkiest of jack rabbits, bowled with precision, thoughtful field placings, clever changes of bowling. On it, on it, every ball. Whether India were too cautious, whether they read the pitch right, whether Australia were just too good, whether the weight of expectation was too heavy, I don’t think I’ll pretend to know. You’ll just have to tune into Rob in about twenty minutes to find out.
One thing it does vindicate is Cummins’ decision to bowl first. No fast bowler has ever lifted the World Cup – but the P of Pat must be on the engraver’s needle.
Atherton’s money is with Australia. “They’ve got a great bowling attack, they have a chance but I do think Australia are favourites, especially if the dew comes in.”
And the moment of the match so far, Travis Head’s catch – sprinting and collecting over his head to dismiss Rohit Sharma.
“Greetings from Budapest, en route to an England XI’s date with North Macedonia,” writes Philip Cornwall.
“Regarding David Griffiths’ thoughts (46th over), the big difference for me between this and 1983 (when I was lucky enough to be at Lord’s) was that India were underdogs, with low expectations and so little to lose. This time it’s hard to imagine there has been a greater weight of assumptions on the shoulders of finalists, born of so many successive wins and being on home soil.”
So true. But the flags are still waving in the crowd, and shortly Bumrah and Siraj will take ownership of the shiny new white ball. Thank you so much for all your emails today and throughout this world cup, and sorry I wasn’t able to get to them all. I’m going to hand you over now to Rob, the King of the OBO, who will take you through Australia’s chase. Bye!
45th over: India 215-8 (Suryakumar 14, Kuldeep 1 ) A wicket and just two runs by India from the 45th over in the home World Cup final. How cricket teases.
Many thanks to my old friend Tim de Lisle for this telling stat. “Rohit: seven boundaries from 31 balls faced… one every four or five balls. Rest of top six: six boundaries from 33.4 overs faced … one every 33 balls.”
“How much do you want it?”
Mitchell Starc has the microphone. “It’s not an easy wicket to bat on, maybe its going to skid on a little bit , we’re not sure. There’s runs to be scored, it’s not going to be easy, but its a World Cup final: how much do you want it?”
WICKET! Suryakumar c Inglis b Hazlewood 18 (India 226 -9)
49th over: India 232-9 (Kuldeep 8, Siraj 3) Siraj must face Cummins, who kindly donates a wide. Siraj ducks a bouncer, picks up a single. One for Kuldeep too. Just 12 fours and three sixes in the entire innings. Another single to Siraj flapping blindly, and one more for Kuldeep to enthusiastic applause. Five from the over. One to come.
Hello Jordan White on a train “I assume Bumrah and Shami will make short work of the Aussie batting line-up (I’m an Australian and a pessimist), but I’m also wondering how the match will be decided if a Super Over is tied – boundary countback, or something different? I think that’s the funniest possible scenario at this point.” Apparently, another super over. And then another, until it is done.
48th over: India 227-9 (Kuldeep 6, Siraj 1) A huge roar for a wide. Warner, it is he, sprints and dives to cut off a drive short of the rope. Then the wicket. India down to the crumbs under the table.
WICKET! Bumrah lbw Zampa 1 (India 214-8)
47th over: India 223-8 (Suryakumar 16, Kuldeep 6) Not easy for the number ten to take on Pat Cummins. But Kuldeep steals a single. Suryakumar tries to flick behind but there is a fielder there, of course. Those yellow shirts are everywhere. Just a single. Cummins holding back his pace. Lady Luck favours Kuldeep who almost cuts onto his stumps. Two from the over. Suryakumar has the strike.
46th over: India 221-8 (Suryakumar 15, Kuldeep 5 ) Suryakumar takes the single, which leaves Kuldeep against Starc – two dots, then they take two from the fifth. A precious drop of nectar for India, a wide. Then another single and Kuldeep keeps the strike. Starc is complete, after an excellent day’s work: 3-55.
Hello David Griffiths! “To quote Hamlet, and to continue this riff on Fortune’s femininity, India is currently sitting neither on the cap of fortune nor in the “soles of her shoes’’. They are rather in the middle, “secret parts of Fortune … Oh, most true. She is a strumpet”
”As things stand, I am reminded of the 1983 final when the West Indies restricted India very effectively and looked to be cruising toward victory when suddenly Clive Lloyd injured himself while batting and the Windies crumbled soon after.”