As the 2023 Cricket World Cup nears its climax, anticipation is reaching a fever pitch in Australia. The 45-day journey, filled with twists and turns, is hurtling towards its pinnacle: India’s grand finale at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, boasting a capacity of 100,000 fervent fans.
This spectacle, set to unfold on Sunday, holds immense significance for India, seeking their third World Cup title and the first since 2011. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for whom the colossal arena is named, will be in attendance to witness the culmination of a tournament where India has triumphed in all 10 matches.
The atmosphere in Ahmedabad is electric, with blue-shirted fans fervently chanting “India jeetega” (India will win) upon their arrival at the city’s airport. Hotel prices have soared, and the roads are predicted to be paralyzed with traffic come Sunday morning.
In a prelude to the clash, counterfeit India shirts flood the bustling streets around the stadium, reminiscent of the fervor during India’s dominant performance against Pakistan earlier in the tournament.
Australia, though not a traditional political or sporting foe, braces for a partisan atmosphere. Captain Pat Cummins, acknowledging the one-sided crowd, emphasizes the thrill of silencing a boisterous audience in pursuit of victory. “You just can’t get overwhelmed. You have got to be up for it, you’ve got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine,” Cummins remarked in a press conference.
India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, exuded calm amidst the chaos, emphasizing the challenge for professional athletes to focus amid the intense pressure of bringing a top-tier white-ball trophy home after a 12-year wait.
Despite India’s unblemished record, the final against Australia introduces uncertainties. England’s unexpected absence in the final adds an unexpected layer to the narrative. Australia, with a formidable cricketing history and aiming for their sixth World Cup, stands as a formidable opponent. The Australians, led by cricket legends such as Allan Border, Shane Warne, and Ricky Ponting, are revered in India almost as much as in their homeland.
Australia’s recent success in the World Test Championship and their victory over India in the 2003 World Cup final adds an extra layer of challenge for the Indian team. While India secured a convincing win against Australia in their initial encounter in Chennai, the closeness of the game left room for hope for the Australian side.
Virat Kohli, a key player for India, has been in stellar form throughout the tournament, scoring 711 runs at an average of 101.57, including three centuries. However, he faces a tough challenge against Australian seamer Josh Hazlewood, who has dismissed Kohli five times in eight ODIs.
As the teams prepare for the showdown, individual battles, such as Kohli vs. Hazlewood and Rohit Sharma against left-arm pace, could prove decisive. Australia, relying on big runs at the top, seeks to capitalize on David Warner’s prolific form. However, Warner faces a formidable opponent in Indian seamer Mohammed Shami, who has dismissed him three times in the tournament.
The stakes are high for both teams. An Indian victory would mark cricketing immortality, securing a home World Cup title, while Australia eyes a historic treble, having already clinched the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes urn in the preceding year.
Off the field, the final promises to be a scripted spectacle, with fans eagerly awaiting the culmination of a thrilling and unpredictable Cricket World Cup.