26th over: India 135-3 (Kohli 28, Rahul 50) Kohli calls for his cap, just in time to acknowledge the crowd, who rise, for his fifty – off 56 balls. He raises his bat and wipes his beard. Five consecutive fifties – just as he made in the 2019 World Cup as well. Rahul drives through extra cover, the crowd raise their voices in anticipation, but Warner is there, the scrappy pup.
25th over: India 131-3 (Kohli 49, Rahul 25) Maxwell again, as Cummins rings the changes to bemuse. Just three off Mazwell. The current projected score in 264. I have no idea if that would be enough. I’m going to say no.
24th over: India 128-3 (Kohli 47, Rahul 24) Rahul and Kohli have faced nearly the identical number of balls, but Kohli has almost double the score. Three from the over. In the Indian dugout, the players looks relaxed as we approach the half way stage.
23rd over: India 125-3 (Kohli 45, Rahul 23) None of the spectators at this ground would have imagined watching India bat and not hit a boundary for nearly an hour and a quarter. Cummins waves on Starc. Kohli picks up a couple from a nudge behind, then opens the face, cleverly playing the angles. He seems unfazed.
22nd over: India 121-3 (Kohli 42, Rahul 22) Travis Head, he of the astonishing catch to dismiss Rohit, fizzes in, just two from his over. Rahul calls for water, gulps down half a bottle and wipes his brow.
“I think Kim Thonger’s question about the gender of luck could be better answered by positing the contrasting predictability of masculinity, rather than its reality (he both demonstrated and mansplained simultaneously).” Thank you Brian Withington, she nodded, glancing at her watch.
21st over: India 119-3 (Kohli 41, Rahul 21) Kohli does some gardening, dusts away an invisible impediment, pats the pitch. He dabs Hazlewood behind. Four singles. David Warner laughs his head off.
20th over: India 115-3 (Kohli 39, Rahul 19) Time for Mitch Marsh and his medium pacers. I feel Rohit would have tucked in, but things are different now. There have now been 60 balls since the last boundary – the running ticker tape says at the bottom of the TV screen. Nine fours, three sixes in the first ten overs, none at all in the second ten.
19th over: India 113-3 (Kohli 38, Rahul 18) Hazlewood now, who must have crept back on the field when I wasn’t looking. Rahul pulls, but those pesky yellow shirts are everywhere. Kohli steals a quick single. And another. Both teams happy to operate in singles at the moment.
18th over: India 107-3 (Kohli 35, Rahul 15) Rahul cuts but Warner slides and stops – a lesser-spotted two. Just three from the over, whipped through by Maxwell in a jiffy.
Good morning Bhawesh! “Got up at 3:30AM here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to watch the game (actually didn’t have much sleep due to the excitement of the game). Hoping India pull this through and rebuild the innings in this phase of the game. Last time India and Australia met in a final, I was a little kid. I think Sachin getting out and India losing was one of the most heartbreaking moments for me in sport as a kid. Hoping this time would be different.”
17th over: India 104-3 (Kohli 35, Rahul 12) Rahul and Kohli chat half way down the pitch, while the Australians swarm in yellow to the right. Could be a court painting. Marnus at cover cuts off Rahul. Virat lazes Cummins past square leg but Warner is there, a swat to fine leg is cut off too. Cummins picks up off his own bowling. Australia tighten the net.
16th over: India 97-3 (Kohli 32, Rahul 8) Kohli and Rahul content again to deal in singles, Zampa’s three overs have gone for just 14 and there hasn’t been a boundary since Shreyas’s back foot drive. They take drinks.
William Hampton is awake. “It’s half past 2am in northern Alberta. The Aussies have woken me up a tad. This could be fun.”
15th over: India 97-3 (Kohli 32, Rahul 8) A nervy over of nearly. Rahul gets a top edge off Cummins, falls short. Kohli nearly undone by a miscued pull pricking the ears of midwicket. The stadium revs up with a Mexican wave. Excellent by Cummins.
14th over: India 94-3 (Kohli 30, Rahul 7) A pitch invader, whose time at the World Cup is over. Surely it wasn’t a worth it. Just singles again from Zampa.
In Poland, Krishnamoorthy is in thoughtful mood. “Should this rampaging India somehow manage NOT to win this WC (looks more likely at this moment) , it will take a LONG time to recover and become a force again.” Early days, early days.
13th over: India 89-3 (Kohli 27, Rahul 5) Cummins, freshly shorn, broad of shoulder, rustic of run-up, keeps the pressure on with a tidy over giving away just two runs. We enter the rebuild
”Jolly exciting isn’t it?”Why yes Kim Thonger. “I’ve devised a captaincy strategy which enables the captain winning the toss to reduce the pressure on the team’s batters and bowlers. Don’t make the decision to field or bat, even though can, but instead, use a die, in the manner of Luke Rhinehart’s The Dice Man, to decide for you. Roll odd, bat. Even, bowl. Winning the toss sometimes messes with your head more than losing. This leaves the decision to Lady Luck. Make sure your team know the process though, to ensure their relaxation. Incidentally, why is luck female?”
Um, gosh because, historically, reality is male? Mutter, mutter patriarchy?
12th over: India 87-3 (Kohli 26, Rahul 4) Now Zampa, who Ponting said would be key to this Indian innings. Cummins decision to bowl first paying off so far. Like a dandelion seed, he floats in – five singles.
11th over: India 82-3 (Kohli 24, Rahul 1) So, its on Kohli.
Radio links: “Here’s where I’m listening in Japan. It’s the ABC/TMS feed. I recommend to you ‘ABC Grandstand Sport’ on radio.net.” Thank you Stuart O.
The air starts to seep out of the balloon. A beauty from Cummins, simply nicked behind, an easy catch.
10th over: India 80-2 (Kohli 23, Shreyas 4) Maxwell takes a hammering from Rohit – one lofted into the stratosphere for six, another driven for four through the covers. Then that astonishing catch by Head, crashing down on his elbows.Shreyas opens up with a back foot drive for four.
Sprinting, diving, scrabbling, scrappy catch over his shoulder sends Rohit on his way.
9th over: India 66-1 (Rohit Sharma 37, Kohli 23) Captain Cummins. A slower ball, and the Indians take the first slightly risky single of the match. No boundaries, another good save, this time by pocket rocket David Warner, as Kohli guides the ball to backward point.
“This is electric, Tanya. A packed Modi mega arena, Rohit and Virat in, a billion wishing them to glory and 11 Australians standing in their way. They will want to keep Kohli on strike as much as possible as he starts slowly, and take the early momentum out. Surprised they’re not going short yet, as that gave Virat issues before. Australia’a fielding has been predictably excellent, and you wonder how big that could be. They’ve saved 20+ runs anyway. Let’s forget the sideshows and just drink the cricket in for one more day. “ Beautifully put Guy Hornsby.
8th over: India 61-1 (Rohit Sharma 35, Kohli 21) Glenn Maxwell comes on early to stem the flow. Three singles, then Kohli leans back and cuts for four with such geometrical precision it will surely make a maths paper somehow, somewhere. Ah, we see Hazlewood rush off the ground and up the stairs.
“I’m an Aussie marooned in Germany trying to listen to the cricket. Test Match Special often make a link for international listeners who (due to rights restrictions) are unable to listen to games via BBC sounds. Would you be able to post that link?” Arghghg, Andrew Macoustra, I can’t find it. Apologies. Can an OBO-readers help?
7th over: India 54-1 (Rohit Sharma 33, Kohli 16) Bottle this sound for your Monday mornings, as Kohli strokes Starc for three successive fours: a one legged swivel through mid on, a gentle ease through backward point, then an almost dainty, dreamy, cover drive that beats a sprawling Labuschagne for four.
6th over: India 40-1 (Rohit Sharma 32, Kohli 3) An over of calm, just three singles off Hazlewood. A bird’s eye view of the crowd shows a kaleidescopeof blue.
“Interesting the Rohit said he would have chosen to bat, feel like every match I’ve watched at this tournament the captain that loses the toss just says they would have chose whatever the winner chose. Blunt honesty, or a bit of mind games for the final?” Hi Ryan Casey, on the television, they seemed to think that, in this instance at least, Rohit was being honest.
5th over: India 37-1 (Rohit Sharma 31, Kohli 1) Just as India looked as if they were getting away, Ausstalia pull one back. Irritatingly, the television pulls away for ads so I can’t tell you what the reception was like for Kohli. But we can imagine. An excellent catch over the rope as Rohit leans back, as if to rest his behind on a sun lounger, and louchley hammers a Starc off cutter for six.
Quiet. Nicely taken by Zampa with both hands falling back on his bottom as Gill, cramped for room, pulls to mid on. He cries out in anguish, mouth wide. Rohit turns his back.
4th over: India 30-0 (Rohit Sharma 25, Shubman Gill 4) Hazlewood bowls short to Rohit who takes it on – he’s making me feel nervous with his gung-ho here – and it is almost taken by Head at deep square leg. He tries again, a disdainful swipe over deep midwicket for six, into the flags and the smoke and the joy . Then flays straight past Hazlewood’s feet for four more.
“Dear Tanya,” Hello Peter Leihy!
“Australian cricketheads always noted that Steve Waugh was great at leading by example in a scrap, but Warne (later with Gilchrist) did the on-field tactics; same may be true for Cummins and Labuschagne/Smith. This win-toss-bowl drives that sentiment home.”
3rd over: India 18-0 (Rohit Sharma 14, Shubman Gill 3) Has it carried? No. Gill edges Starc just short of first slip. A wide. Another lofted drive from Rohit stopped on the rope. And a drive from Gill goes through Warner’s slippy palms at cover and they pick up two.
The score predictor (already?) says 334. Wise words from Arul Kanhere. “You cannot win a cricket world cup without taking on Australia. Maybe this will be the passing of the baton from an ageing power to a new one….or a massive heartbreak that will probably scar quite a few. Can’t wait.”
2nd over: India 13-0 (Rohit Sharma 13, Shubman Gill 0) Hazlewood’s turn. Rohit has it in for him. The first is edged with candyfloss hands through the slips, but more acrobatic fielding prevents the boundary. Rohit then takes a step forward and pierces the covers for four, like a man thwacking a tennis ball for his dog, the next a thump through leg. Then an uncharacteristically ugly swipe that misses everything.
1st over: India 3-0 (Rohit Sharma 3, Shubman Gill 0) Mitchell Starc sprints into a curtain of sound. Huge appeal first ball – Starc likes it but it is drifting leg side.The second is wide on the off stump and Rohit pushes firmly, but sprinting sweeper Travis Head cuts off on the rope. An off drive from Rohit, classy, but Cummins is there at mid-off. Everyone breathe.
“Excited about this Indian team but also a little wary since the SF,” writes Latha from Chennai. “I do believe if NZ had had 1 or 2 more big hitters in their line up, India could’ve been in v real trouble. Aus does, hence the stomach churns. Good luck to both teams!! Hope to see a gr8 contest.”
Wow, what a sound! The stadium bubbles with nearly 100,000 voices. A quiet shout out here, for the dignified man sitting in the shade who has masterminded this Indian juggernaut –Rahul Dravid.
A golden yellow huddle, now here strides Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill.
Tanya is back, armed with caffeine, so I’ll hand over to her. See you in a few hours for the runchase.
The national anthems
The two umpires, Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettleborough, walk onto the field with the match referee Andy Pycroft. Then Sachin Tendulkar, a non-playing star of the tournament, strolls into the middle.
And finally, the most important people of all: 22 of them, about to play in a World Cup final like no other. Even on TV, on the other side of the world, it’s a mesmerising scene.
Some pre-match reading
And finally, this slightly scary glimpse of the future.
Hello, it’s Rob here for a few minutes while Tanya gets a well-deserved coffee. Pat Cummins’ surprising decision to bowl first – on a dry pitch, in a final – is still marinating. There has been a fair bit of intrigue about the pitch. Cummins hopes the tournament will end as it started: with a rampant runchase under the lights in Ahmedabad.
Do send me your thoughts – my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, I don’t think the link is working – apologies, will fix.
Australia: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (capt), Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
Rohit Sharma, wearing mirrored shades and a smile, talks to Ravi Shastri cosplaying as a heavyweight boxing announcer.
“I would have batted first,” he says. “It looks like a good pitch. Going to be amazing, …we’re going to stay nice and calm and get the job done. It’s a great feeling, a dream come true for me, but I know what lies in front of us, we just need to play well and get it done.”
India are unchanged from the semi final as well, as Rohit walks away and planes scream overhead.
Rohit Sharma tosses the coin, Pat Cummins, hands behind his back, calls heads. Heads it is.
“Looks like a dry wicket,” says Cummins. “We’ll bowl during the day and back ourselves to chase it.” Australia are unchanged since the semi-final.
“I’ve said all week, all Australia have to do is keep them [the crowd] quiet.” says Ricky Ponting. “What’s happened before now doesn’t matter a bit.”
Atherton pipes in. “Australia lost to India, lost to South Africa. Pat Cummins was under a bit of pressure both for his leadership, his bowling, the fielding was awful. But Australia are battle-hardened, experienced, they’ve got seven survivors from 2015 World Cup triumph.”
It is then tricky to hear Ponting, such is the noise from the ground, and the shout outs from the PA, but I think he says that Australia need to get Rohit out early and that Adam Zampa is key – if India get after him, Australia are toast.
The black soil pitch, I can report, is very dry and cracked. Ponting says the Aussies are convinced India are going to play their three spinners – we will shortly find out.
“ I think the big thing is don’t try and hide away from the enormity of the event,” says Ponting – and he should know. “Embrace it, World Cup finals are won by stars.”
“Hi Tanya.” Good morning, Jeremy Boyce! “Funny to think that it will soon be all over for another 4 years. No yellow shirts in the queues outside, but a big yellow banana skin waiting inside, unless India are right on top of their game and not feeling the pressure of 1.4 billion people weighing down on them. There is no better team than Australia for identifying a point of weakness and ruthlessly exploiting it. Fascinating few hours in prospect. Winning the toss could be crucial, watch out for double-headed coins… What would you do if you were Cummins and you won the toss ?”
I would bat, get runs on the board, and challenge India to score 350 against a scurrying Labuschagne in the field, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins pawing the ground, Adam Zampa deceptively floating to the crease.
The television coverage has started. DK, Ian Ward and Eoin Morgan are on the ground. The noise builds already, and a blue snake winds away from the stadium as far as the camera pans.
Are this Indian team stoppable? Yes, but only if they freeze in the moment and lose the litheness and the pomp that has carried them through the tournament untouched by failure. Despite the glories of the past, despite Dhoni, despite 2011, this is the greatest Indian white-ball team of all time. They have a King in Kohli, an emperor in Rohit, a batting line-up that carefully constructs before scoring effortlessly – four of the top five have made hundreds. As Mark Ramprakash says, they are classic cars.
With the ball? Well what can you say about a hand of Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
The pressure on them is something else, but they’re used to it. The live it, breathe it, play it in the IPL every year. In Barney’s hotel this morning,
“The staff were all in replica kit, as were 90 per cent of the guests. I was given a cup of coffee by Virat, who then went on to serve Virat, Virat and Rohit at the next table.”
This, is normal.
“No reason to be alarmed, but it was a little disappointing to see a minor crush at Gate 1 of the Narendra Modi stadium on the way in. Nobody injured, but people lifted off their feet as the crowd surged, watched by rows of armed police who seemed uninterested in stewarding. This is not unusual. There are a lot of people coming to this game, a lot of people in Ahmedabad and the access ways and stewarding is not as carefully managed as it might be. But it was still a little disturbing. The ICC runs this event (in theory) and any kind of crush around the stadium is too much of a crush. The ICC should be across such things well in advance.”
A bird’s eye view from Barney at the stadium.
Can anyone spot a yellow shirt?
Hello! You made it! We made it. India made it. And, to some surprise, Australia made it too. After 45 days and 47 matches, dew, pitch switches, heat, implosions (England), Kohli, Kohli and Kohli again, welcome to the final showdown – the World Cup final.
We’re in Ahmedabad, city of Gandhi, city of blue shirts, today a city where 1.4 billion people will be squeezed into the 90,000 Narendra Modhi stadium.
India arrive outrageous favourites, ten wins from ten games, a team of almost perfect combinations under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, a man who sucks in pressure and lets it dribble out unnoticed through his boots. Australia arrive with the lightness that comes from being almost forgotten, despite their pedigree – five World Cups already won. Pat Cummins told the press that he had one task – to silence the crowd. If that happens, for a breath, for two, three, a hundred, we have a game on our hands.
Play starts at 2pm local, 7.30pm AEDT, 8.30am GMT, please join us as we count down the minutes.