New Delhi, Nov 18: The India versus Australia World Cup’23 finals on November 19 in the newly-constructed Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad will be the stage for the final countdown.
The two most successful teams of the Cricket World Cup tournament, battling for the prestigious trophy, should be a high-octane, superlative and heart-throbbing occasion for millions of cricket lovers from all over the world. A truly significant encounter to recognise the Cricket World Champion.
India will be the favourites, having won all their 10 matches through some scintillating performances. It is quite remarkable to have all the eleven players in peak form and India seems to have managed to do so exceptionally well. Every team that they played against were given a taste of their skilful ability and the Indian side looked head and shoulders above the rest.
The path to the finals for India has been so systematically achieved, that one feels nervous about it. The last time a team showed such authority was the Australian side at the beginning of this century. Since then, it has always been difficult to predict a winner.
Is Rohit Sharma's team for the 2023 World Cup, the best-ever Indian ODI side? That is a question that can be only answered through a win in the final. The side has till now played like a well-versed symphony, each one complementing the other to bring out the sweetest and most melodious result. They are on the periphery of greatness with just one giant step left to achieve it.
England transformed Test cricket by their innovative, daring and aggressive approach, termed popularly as “BazBall”. Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain and opening batsman, has done a very similar innovation in this World Cup too through some exceptional stroke-play in the initial Power-play overs.
His dare-devil approach has brought about a positive note in the way India have played the game till now. One remembers the very first time one saw such a change was when Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana from Sri Lanka did so in the past as well as in the 1996 World Cup. One wonders as to why this Power-play onslaught dwindled over the years. The think tank of Indian cricket should be complemented for rekindling it, especially, during this World Cup.
Australia also seems to have imbibed the same approach finally, especially with Travis Head and David Warner, two magnificent strikers of the cricket ball. The outcome and success of both teams will depend on which one of them will do so fruitfully.
India have a formidable opponent in Australia. Although having beaten them in the league stage, the Australians did have India on the mat, when they had them three wickets down for two runs. It was the calm and collective effort of Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul that took India to victory.
Australia too have now got their playing eleven in place. They started the tournament with two defeats, however, to rise from it through eight consecutive wins, can be an invigorating booster.
The toss will play a major part, as both sides would prefer batting first. However, in the four previous matches played in Ahmedabad, it has shown that on three occasions the side batting second have won the game.
The worry that is emanating from both sides is that in the evening sky, the white ball seems to swing as well as move off the wicket substantially in the initial overs of the second innings.
Batters have found it difficult, as the movement is during the first Power-play in which sides want to take the maximum advantage. The Indian seamers have exploited this condition beautifully and Mohammed Shami has been extraordinary in doing so.
The danger that India faces is if Australia get off to a flying start, they have batters who could milk the Indian bowling without taking any undue risks.
The 50 overs game has become a batters' paradise between the 10th and the 40th over. This is precisely why one has seen so many centuries in this World Cup. The field and bowling restrictions on a good wicket and a fast outfield, along with the modern thick wooden bats have made run-making far easier.
One hopes that the wicket in Ahmedabad has some juice and spice in it. This will then make it more interesting to watch. Batters will then need to be more skilful. The semifinal match between South Africa and Australia had some element of interest because the conditions did give a bit of assistance to the bowler. The India versus New Zealand encounter in Mumbai, on the other hand, was a belter. The first session was a tortuous affair for the bowlers. With no movement or spin, the Indian batters were impossible to conquer.
There has to be an even battle between the bat and the ball to enjoy a game of cricket. Furthermore, it is then that one can differentiate between a good and a great cricketer.
Cricket has this uncertain aura about it. Every cricketer and cricketing side prays for some God-sent luck. Win or lose, the Indian side has played some outstanding cricket. The famous saying “ Luck and fortune favours the brave”, on that count India does stand tall.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal) (IANS)