Rex Clementine in Ahmedabad
It looked a big call when Australia named Travis Head, with a fractured left hand, in their World Cup squad. In fact, Head missed Australia’s first five games in the tournament. But the team knows what a valuable player he is. That he showed in the World Cup final smashing a fabulous hundred under pressure to help Australia to beat India by six wickets with plenty of overs to spare.
India were the tournament favourites and had come into the game with an unbeaten record. They had all bases covered and it required a special effort to beat them. It came from Head. Before his batting masterclass, he proved his worth on the field.
Rohit Sharma was off to a flier. Like he has done throughout the tournament. If Rohit bats for 20 overs, it’s match over for the opposition.
In the tenth over of the Indian innings, the captain had hit Glenn Maxwell for a four and a six. He attempted a third big hit when he came down the track but couldn’t execute the shot properly. A chance was on offer and Head ran from covers and dived to take a stunning catch to dismiss Rohit for 47 that had come off in 31 balls with four fours and three sixes.
When Rohit was out in the middle, it looked a batting paradise. But the moment he was dismissed, rest of the batters weren’t timing the ball freely. Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul scored half-centuries, but their knocks weren’t as free flowing as Rohit’s.
In fact, after Rohit was dismissed, India scored just five boundaries in 40 overs which is proof as to how heavily they depend on their skipper. Which is why Head’s catch was so special.
If you back any bowling attack to defend 240. It has got to be India’s. Their seamers are clever, and spinners are crafty. When Australia were reduced to 47 for three, the writing was on the wall some thought.
But Head played a blinder. He was sedate to start with as the ball nipped around early on and once things settled down cashed in with some exquisite stroke play.
India attacked knowing too well that the only way they would win this game was by picking up wicket. But Head counterattacked forcing Rohit to spread the field as he didn’t have many runs to defend.
Marnus Labuschagne consolidated from the other end making 58 off 110. Head was dismissed trying to finish things off in a style, but he failed to clear long-on.
Head made 137 off 120 with 15 fours and four sixes. The packed house at the 132,00 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium was stunned to silence with the Prime Minister himself in attendance to witness the proceedings.