by Kobe Jacobs, ACS Literary Scholar
What Australia has achieved in this ODI World Cup confirms the force this team is within the white ball format. Not only did they defy the odds, but they defied them in a fashion not many thought this side could do. To beat the host nation in such a dominant display created yet another iconic moment in Australian cricket history leaving the 90,000 or so Indian spectators in attendance in utter disbelief.
Given the extreme amount of pressure and complexity both the Indian conditions and their crowd can provide, this win for the Australians strengthens the legacy that this current group of players has created for themselves. Rohit Sharma’s men seemed destined to lift this trophy, and yet it was Pat Cummins and his team that cruelly crushed the dreams of so many passionate Indian cricket fans. This tournament win was the perfect way for the men’s team to sign off this ever-so-vital calendar year. Having lifted the World Test Championship for the very first time, whilst also being able to retain the Ashes in England, this win in India might just triumph both, given how difficult it is to win in the sub-continent.
As he gestured that his side was going to bowl first, the initial decision from the Australian captain looked to be a horrible mistake. As Rohit Sharma started the Indian innings off in a blitzing fashion, having his side 66 without loss after just nine overs, it looked as though the hosts were going to produce a mammoth total. However, to their credit, the Australians held their nerve and were able to counter with clinical fielding, highlighted by a brilliant catch from Travis Head to remove the Indian captain.
Clever bowling changes matched with clever field placings strangled the Indians progress in the middle overs. The removal of Kohli by Cummins was pivotal in swinging momentum. The home side stumbled their way to the seemingly slim score of 240 all out on what turned out to be a grim and slow wicket. In conditions that usually favour the home side, this time it looked as though it would act as their ultimate demise. Though the Australians still had to bat. And regardless of India’s slim first innings score, their devoted fans still remained upbeat, suggesting that they were still hopeful to take out their third ODI World Cup.
When the first Australian wicket fell, it was evident that the Indian team were riding the momentum that their home fans were providing. In just the sixth over, the Indian bowling attack had forced errors from David Warner and Mitchell Marsh who both slashed at wide ones. Then when Steve Smith was given out LBW, a batsman who has put his country on his back many a time, the Australians were on the back foot and on the ropes at 3 for 47.
Given how loud the stadium in Ahmedabad was throughout the first portion of the Australian innings, the crucial partnership between Head and Labuschagne could have easily disintegrated at any stage, as the onus on them to consolidate was apparent. History will tell us they not only weathered the storm, they took us almost the entire journey to victory.
Although Head will be the player that gets all of the praise for his belligerent knock of 137, Labuschagne’s 58 off 110 balls should be recognised as the glue that held it together. The Queenslander was able to turn the strike over, allowing for his South Australian counterpart to free his arms and power his country over the line with a century for the ages, instantly forging Head as an Australian cricketing hero. Not to be forgotten is Cummins brave decision to bowl first, which ultimately enabled the duo to bat in seemingly more favourable evening conditions.
This entire Australian squad should be hailed for their heroics however in fighting back throughout the tournament. At 0-2, they could have easily thrown in the towel and written off their World Cup campaign. But instead, they dug in and ground their way through some difficult fixtures to reach yet another ODI World Cup final birth. All batters contributed at some stage, though who will ever forget Maxwell’s two incredible knocks, while Zampa provided the spark that held the bowling together until our fast bowling trio found their groove.
While it looked like this was India’s tournament to take out, the Australians instead added yet another ODI World Cup to their already stacked trophy cabinet. And as the dust settles after this 46-day tournament, this result serves as a reminder that in sports, nothing is predetermined.
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .