India and Australia — the two best teams of the 2023 ODI World Cup — have duly made their way to the final, promising a series of fascinating individual battles between the fierce rivals. India, the only unbeaten side in the tournament, have hardly put a foot wrong while Australia have never looked back after recovering from back-to-back losses in the beginning of the competition.
AdvertisementAs a unit, India have performed better than Australia and are favourites to lift the coveted trophy at home after 12 long years. On the other hand, Australia are not used to coming second when a global trophy is at stake and five titles in seven final appearances are a testament to their envious record.
The final promises to be a rivetting contest and PTI looks at match-ups that could potentially decide the winner. Rohit Sharma versus new ball of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood
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AdvertisementRohit dancing down the track and dispatching Trent Boult over cover for a six in the third over of the semifinal summed up the Indian skipper’s fearless approach over the course of the long and draining tournament. The big question is can he pull it off against Hazlewood and Starc in the opening powerplay on Sunday. While batting first or chasing, India will rely heavily on Rohit, who was trapped in front by Hazlewood in the league game against Australia in Chennai. Hazlewood will continue to ask questions with his seam movement while Starc will be looking for a banana inswinger that has troubled Rohit in the past. It is probably the most significant game of his career and trust Rohit to take the challenge head on. Mohammed Shami versus the left-handed openers With 23 wickets in six games, Shami is having a tournament to remember. No batter has found a way to negotiate the movement generated with an impeccable seam position. Bowling from around the wicket, the skillful Indian pacer has especially rattled the left-arm batters, making even a champion cricketer like Ben Stokes look clueless. In his back-to-back overs in the powerplay of the first semifinal, Shami removed the dangerous opening duo of Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra with the ball that straightened enough from around the wicket angle to take the outside edge. His performance against lefties make a strong case for Shami to open the bowling alongside Jasprit Bumrah against the rampaging David Warner and Travis Head. The 33-year-old Amroha-born pacer has been used as the first change option by Rohit but considering the threat posed by Warner and Head, the India skipper will be tempted to throw the new ball to Shami. Virat Kohli versus Adam Zampa Kohli has often struggled against left-arm spinners in the recent past but leg-spinner Zampa too has troubled him and has got the special wicket of the Indian superstar as many as eight times. The battle between tournament’s leading run-getter and the most successful spinner will be the one to watch out for. Kohli, who has amassed 711 runs at a strike rate of 90.69 and average of 101.57, will be expected to tackle Zampa by taking the quick singles and two besides working the field in the middle overs. Zampa likes to target the stumps considering that Kohli will be expecting the odd flipper and googly. It has not been his mode of play thus far but will will Kohli attempt to charge down the track and surprise Zampa? Kuldeep Yadav versus Glenn Maxwell It is a testament to Kuldeep’s sublime skills that barring Daryl Mitchell, no batter has went for the offence against the left-arm wrist spinner. Mitchell targetted the straight boundary against Kuldeep in Dharamsala but a freak like Maxwell has a lot more shots in his repertoire and some of them he only can pull off. If Maxwell manages to hang around on Sunday, it would be the toughest test for Kuldeep. Maxwell can target the cow corner while playing with the spin and he also has the ability to disturb Kuldeep’s rhythm by going for the breathtaking reverse hits when the ball lands outside the off-stump. If that happens, Kuldeep will have to think out of the box to fox the Australian. David Warner versus Jasprit Bumrah Jasprit Bumrah, who has taken 18 wickets in 10 games with an incredible economy rate of 3.98, is yet to dismiss Warner in ODIs in 14 games. Warner has managed to collect 117 runs off the 130 balls he has faced from Bumrah. Since coming back from an injury, Bumrah has added a deadly outswinger in his already envious range and that could trouble an in-form Warner, who is Australia’s leading run getter in the tournament with 528 runs. Bumrah will fire away a few with an angle but Warner will be waiting for that incoming ball.