Brilliant Travis Head century guides Australia to Cricket World Cup final win over India

Baggy Greens power to six-wicket victory at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad

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A fabulous century by Travis Head helped to guide Australia to a six-wicket win over hosts India in the World Cup final at Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing a victory target of 241 after an impressive bowling performance, Australia looked in a spot of bother after losing three early wickets with David Warner (seven), Mitchell Marsh (15) and Steve Smith (four) all falling cheaply.

But that brought Marnus Labuschagne to the crease and his partnership with Head would prove to be the game-changing one that would leave the 100,000-plus crowd of predominantly Indian fans sitting in stunned silence.

The pair put together a stand of 192 with Head out for 137 and Labuschagne finishing unbeaten on 58 as Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs that secured Australia a record-extending sixth one-day world title with 42 balls to spare.

The 29-year-old was not even in the country when the campaign began, joining up late due to a fractured left hand that sidelined him for Australia's first four matches, but the selectors' faith paid off lavishly after he followed up his player-of-the-match effort in the semi-final against South Africa with something even better.

It capped an impressive year for Australia and Head, who also scored a ton in Australia's World Test Championship final win over India, when he scored a first-innings 163 to put his side on the way to 209-run victory at The Oval.

“Not in a million years did I think that would happen,” said Head of his efforts. “What an amazing day. I'm just thrilled to be a part of it.

“It is a lot better than being sat on the couch at home! I'm very lucky that everything went well and I was able to get back and repay the support that the boys showed, I didn't think this would happen.

“I was nervous in the first 20 balls but Marnus [Labuschagne] batted brilliantly and it is great to bat with him. It was an amazing partnership.”

Earlier, Australia captain Pat Cummins made the brave, and what turned out to be inspired, decision to bowl first in Ahmedabad.

The initial skirmishes were suitably thrilling, India hammering 80 off the first 10 overs while also losing both openers – Shubman Gill for four while captain Rohit Sharma hit three sixes in his rapid 47.

Shreyas Iyer was LBW to Cummins for four before a painstaking stand of 67 between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. Their time together was tough going, with a solitary boundary in 109 deliveries as Australia exerted admirable control of foreign conditions.

Both batters made gritty half-centuries – tournament top-scorer Kohli doing so for the ninth time in 11 knocks at the World Cup – but neither could kick-on to three figures.

Kohli dragged Cummins back into his stumps searching for width on 54 – as he finished the tournament with a mighty 765 runs, at an average of 95.62 – and Rahul nicked Mitchell Starc behind for 66 as the ball began to reverse.

That was the first of five wickets for 37 in the closing stages, India all out courtesy of a run out from the last ball of the innings. Cummins took a vital haul of 2-34, while Mitchell Starc claimed 3-55 in what was an excellent bowling effort from the Australians.

Australia's cricket World Cup final win over India stuns 110,000 fans in Ahmedabad.

Australia's cricket World Cup final win over India stuns 110,000 fans in Ahmedabad.

Pat Cummins was phenomenal, I think he’s been phenomenal all tournament with his decision making,” said Starc. “At times he’s had to step up with the ball and when it’s been a bit flat, he’s been phenomenal.”

India, though, looked like they were not going to go down without a fight, with Warner nicking the first ball of the chase off Jasprit Bumrah between first and second slip for four.

Warner nicked Mohammed Shami behind chasing a ball he had no business playing, Mitch Marsh departed with similar carelessness against Bumrah and linchpin Steve Smith accepted an LBW decision that would have been overturned by DRS.

But that brought together Head and Labuschagne, with the latter content to play the supporting role, it was the former took charge with his knock coming off 120 balls, containing 15 fours and four sixes.

Head was denied the tournament-winning moment when he picked out Gill on the ropes, but was rightly mobbed by his teammates as they basked in the moment.

As for India, their dreams of winning in front of their home fans were over in brutal fashion.

“I mean the result hasn't gone our way and we know that we were not good enough on the day,” said Rohit. “But I'm proud of the team.”

Updated: November 20, 2023, 6:32 AM