Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi celebrate Australia’s World Cup win

Former Pakistan captain Babar Azam and newly-appointed T20I skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi congratulated Australia for World Cup 2023 by beating a strong Indian side in the final on Sunday at the Narendra Modi Stadium in India in front of 95,000 people. This was Australia’s six World Cup title. Australia have won four out of six World Cups held in this century so far; a dominance that no team has even come close to matching. Of all the finals that they have played, this was perhaps the only one where they entered as the second-best team. India were so dominant throughout the tournament, that the odds were heavily stacked in their favour to go on and win a second world title at home. But it wasn’t to be because of an Australian side that was far superior on the biggest stage.

The Pat Cummins-led side, therefore, deserves all the accolades that have already come their way and will come throughout the course of the next few weeks. “Congratulations Australia. What a commanding performance in the final,” wrote Babar in his Instagram story.

A commanding performance it was from Australia. Cummins won the toss, opted to bowl, in a bold but tactically bold move and took advantage of a slow track like no one else imagined they would. Despite another brisk start from Rohit Sharma, Australia held their never and kept chipping away with wickets at regular intervals to restrict India to 240. With dew expected and the pitch set to get better under lights, it was never going to be enough.

And after what Travis Head did with the bat, even 280 would not have been sufficient to stop Australia. The left-hander smashed four sixes and 15 fours in his 137-run knock as Australia reached home with sixes wickets and 7 overs to spare.

While Babar’s post did not have any mention of India, Afridi congratulated Rohit Sharma’s men for being the most dominating and consistent team of the tournament with 10 wins in a row.

“Many congrats to Australia on winning the World Cup title. Surely the better team on the day. Hard luck India but the team played fantastically well throughout the tournament,” he tweeted.

Chasing a tricky 241 for victory in the final, Australia slipped to 47-3 before left-handed opener Head hit his second century of the tournament to steer the team home with seven overs to spare.

Head’s knock, and his marathon stand of 192 with Marnus Labuschagne, unbeaten on 58, ended India’s dominant run of 10 unbeaten matches at the event.

“That’s huge, that’s the pinnacle in cricket, winning a World Cup, especially here in India. These are the moments you remember for the rest of your life,” said Cummins.

Head fell after his 120-ball knock laced with 15 fours and four sixes before Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs to trigger wild celebrations in the Aussie camp.

“Just thrilled to be a part of it,” said man-of-the-match Head who only joined up with the squad following a period of rehabilitation after he broke his hand in South Africa on the eve of the tournament.

“It’s a lot better than seeing the World Cup on the couch at home (nursing his hand injury). I was a little bit nervous but Marnus played exceptionally well and soaked up all the pressure.”

India’s chances of ending a global trophy drought since their 2013 Champions Trophy win went up in smoke once Head got going with Labuschagne.

Head’s century was the seventh in a World Cup final and the third by an Australian after Ricky Ponting (140 not out v India in 2003) and Adam Gilchrist (149 v Sri Lanka in 2007).

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

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