It seemed like deja vu for Indian cricket fans. Only three months back, the Rohit Sharma-led Team India stormed into the 2023 ODI World Cup final on an unbeaten run, sparking hopes that the nation’s decade-long ICC trophy drought will finally end. However, the run was snapped by Pat Cummins as his men as Australia lifted an unprecedented sixth title. On Sunday, the junior Indian side, also on the back of an unbeaten run, took on Australia, a match dubbed as a shot at redemption, in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup final in Benoni. But the story remained the same.
On the back of a 66-run partnership between Harjas Singh and Ryan Hicks for the fourth wicket and Oliver Peake’s resistance in the final 10 overs, Australia set a record target of 254 runs – with 253/7 being the highest-ever first-innings total by a team in the youth World Cup final. And the total seemed a lot a many for the Uday Saharan-led side on a pitch that offered pace and plenty of lateral movement.
India’s batting has been their strength in the run to the final, but none of the batters, including the heroes from the semifinal win against South Africa – Saharan and Sachin Dhas – failed to show up against the resilient Aussie attack. Opener Adarsh Singh did show some resistance early on, while Murugan Abhishek fought hard in the fag end of the innings, but it did not prove enough as India were folded for 174 runs in 43.5 overs.
With the 79-run loss at Willowmoore Park, India have now incurred a hat-trick of losses against Australia in ICC tournament finals.
2023 WTC Final – Australia beat India by 209 runs
India headed into the final in June as a favourite, having defeated Australia a few months back in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, but Travis Head’s incredible knock of 163 in the opening innings proved to be the decisive contribution in the final at the Oval. Ajinkya Rahane, with his 89-run knock and a 71-run stand alongside Ravindra Jadeja put on a show to reduce the first-innings deficit, but Australia’s total of 496 was just too much.
Alex Carrey scored 66 in the second innings and stitched a 93-run stand with Mitchell Starc as Australia set a humongous target of 444 runs. Rahane, once again, looked to stage a fightback for India with Virat Kohli by side his side but India were folded for just 234 runs with Scott Boland picking three crucial wickets before Nathan Lyon ran through the lower-order with his four-fer.
2023 ODI World Cup Final – Australia beat India by 6 wickets
Head was once again the hero for Australia, this time with a record knock of 137, as Australia chased down the target of 241 runs with seven overs to spare. After a top-order collapse for India, where captain Rohit did hit an aggressive 31-ball 47, Kohli and KL Rahul put on a sluggish 67-run stand. The former India captain scored a 63-ball 54 while the wicketkeeper-batter put on 66 off 107 balls as India only managed 240 runs.
Australia, too, lost their first three wickets quickly, however a record 192-run stand between Marcus Stonis and Head helped the visitors bounce back and complete the chase in time to reclaim the World Cup trophy after nine years.