FINAL: INDIA VS AUSTRALIA
It’s all come down to this with undefeated India facing one last challenge in the form of an Australian side themselves on an eight-match winning streak, with the winner to be crowned World Champions on Sunday at Ahmedabad’s imposing Narendra Modi Stadium. The tournament hosts stormed into their fourth World Cup final with a 70-run win over New Zealand that was set up by centuries to Virat Kohli (117 off 113 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (105 off 70 balls) which allowed them to post a monstrous 4/397 and although the Black Caps were in the game, at one stage requiring 112 off 54 balls with six wickets in hand, they had no answer for relentless seamer Mohammad Shami who captured 7/57 off 9.5 overs to eventually knock the Kiwis over for 327. On Thursday the Aussies booked their spot in the finale by sneaking home against South Africa in a low-scoring affair, initially restricting the Proteas to 212 thanks to a superb new ball spell from Mitchell Starc (3/34 off ten overs), before a ballistic 62 off 48 balls at the top of the order from Travis Head set the five-time champions on their way and although they stumbled throughout the chase, they ultimately reached the target with three wickets in hand and 16 balls remaining.
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On a run of ten consecutive victories in ODIs, India are favoured to make it eleven ahead of what would be an incredible sixth World Cup for the Australians. It’s worth noting that not only are the home side yet to drop a game at this tournament, but they’ve been rarely challenged, with a four-wicket win over New Zealand at Dharamsala the only fixture approaching a close finish, whereas the Aussies have had their share of scares throughout their winning streak, particularly against New Zealand, Afghanistan and then in the semi-final. The visitors’ core strength of powerful batting in the powerplay and Adam Zampa’s middle over strangulation is well negated by India’s supreme pace attack and a batting unit highly adept against spin, whilst Australia’s struggles in the middle-order will only be exacerbated by the hosts’ twin spin attack of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav who combined for figures of 5/70 off 20 overs when these two sides met in the group stages. Although Australia are capable of causing a shock, all signs point to yet another Indian victory to crown what would be a dominant and deserving third World Cup title.