New Delhi: India and Australia are set to face off in the ICC Cricket World Cup final, reminiscent of their memorable 2003 encounter. The much-anticipated rematch will take place at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium.
India earned their spot in the final with a decisive 70-run victory over New Zealand in the first semifinal in Mumbai. This marks India's fourth appearance in a World Cup final, having clinched titles in 1983 and 2011 but suffering a defeat to Australia in 2003 in South Africa by a significant 125-run margin. Seeking their third title, India is determined to avenge that poignant loss to the formidable Australian team in Johannesburg.
In the 2003 final, Ricky Ponting's unbeaten 140 off 121 balls guided Australia to a commanding total of 359/2, with Harbhajan Singh taking both wickets. India, led by contributions from Virender Sehwag (82 off 81) and Rahul Dravid (47 off 57), put up a fight. However, faced with the prowess of bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, India struggled, succumbing to 234 runs and experiencing a daunting 125-run loss.
READY FOR THE 2023 SHOWDOWN
The Men in Blue dominated the league table, winning all nine matches before defeating New Zealand by 70 runs in the Mumbai semifinal at Wankhede Stadium.
Australia, finishing third in the group stage with seven wins and two losses, went on a seven-match winning streak in the league stage. After defeats against India and South Africa, Australia secured a spot in the final by defeating South Africa by three wickets in the second semifinal at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Rohit Sharma's emphasis on maintaining 'calm' reflects the present Indian team's mentality as they pursue a third World Cup title, following victories in 1983 and 2011. The team demonstrates remarkable composure in high-pressure situations, as seen in their match against the same opponents in Chennai. Despite a shaky start at 2/3, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli's resilient partnership rescued the Men In Blue, securing a crucial win and showcasing their ability to thrive under pressure.
"Before the start of the World Cup, I wanted to play in a certain manner. I had no idea if it's going to come off... what if it doesn't? I had plans for both," Rohit told reporters ahead of Sunday's final.
"For me, what's important is because I start the innings, there's a bit of freedom to go and express myself. But in that game against England, I had to change my game a bit once we lost a few wickets. I'm prepared to do that as well.
"That's what the experienced player needs to do. You can't just think you have to play one way. You have to adapt quickly to the situations that are there in front of you. I'm prepared to do whatever I feel is right for the team."
Rohit sidestepped the question about whether his team had gained a similar aura to Australia's dominant 2003 squad. Australia, who triumphed over India in the final in Johannesburg, claimed their third World Cup out of five during that tournament.
"Look, I don't believe in that aura. You have to come to the ground well and play good cricket," said Rohit, whose side is the firm favorite for a third crown.
"It's important to have confidence in such games. We played 10 matches well. But again, if you make mistakes tomorrow, then whatever good work you did in those 10 matches, it gets wasted."