Rohit must avoid 'Starc-wreck': Where IND vs AUS WC final could be won and lost | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Rohit must avoid 'Starc-wreck'; Kohli-Iyer middle-overs test: Where IND vs AUS World Cup final could be won and lost

By, New Delhi
Nov 19, 2023 02:35 PM IST

Can lightning 'Starc' twice? Team India will rely heavily on ‘genuine hero’ Rohit Sharma in the ICC World Cup final.

They know the face. They know the name. "Arey maaloom hai sabko yaar (Everybody knows, buddy)," Rohit Sharma put a smile back on everyone's faces with his usual wit and charm when a Team India official gave a formal introduction about the Indian skipper in the ICC World Cup 2023 final press conference. The same name that needs no introduction in 2023 was nowhere to be found when India last won the One Day International (ODI) World Cup. Magnanimous MS Dhoni architected Team India's second World Cup crown without Rohit, whose ‘big setback’ post often finds a way to reappear on social media whenever India get closer to an elusive ICC trophy.

Team India will rely heavily on ‘genuine hero’ Rohit Sharma in the ICC World Cup final(AFP-HT)
Team India will rely heavily on ‘genuine hero’ Rohit Sharma in the ICC World Cup final(AFP-HT)

Come Sunday, the elusive ICC World Cup trophy is closer than it actually appears as Team India is just one win away from ending the decade-long hurt of not winning a major ICC title. Under a ‘calm and composed’ Rohit, the ruthless Team India is unbeaten in their last 10 matches of the ICC World Cup. India avenged its previous heartbreak by getting the better of New Zealand in the replay of the 2019 World Cup semi-final. By dumping their bogey team out of the World Cup, Rohit and Co. have set a blockbuster clash with Pat Cummins’ Australia in the ICC World Cup 2023 final.

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ALSO READ: 'Tough for Shami not to be...': Rohit Sharma puts spotlight on India pacer before World Cup final vs Australia

Win toss and do what?

Rohit’s Team India opted to go with the World Cup trend of batting first at Wankhede in the semi-finals. When in Ahmedabad, three out of the four World Cup matches have been won by the team batting second at the Narendra Modi Stadium. The only exception includes Australia’s win over a misfiring England in the round-robin phase of the World Cup 2023. Thus, the chasing team is expected to have an early advantage over the side batting first in the World Cup final. Teams who batted second have lifted the famous trophy in the last three 50-over World Cups. The last four T20 World Cup finals have also been won by chasing teams.

Relying heavily on ‘genuine hero’?

As England's Nasser Hussain rightly pointed out, Indian skipper Rohit has been the 'genuine hero' of the Men In Blue at the World Cup. Hussain saluted Rohit for changing the culture at the Indian camp. Skipper Rohit has been dominating the powerplay overs in the World Cup 2023. It was his quick-fire 47 off 29 balls that set the tone for a match-winning total against New Zealand. If Rohit calls it right, he is expected to confirm that India are unchanged for the World Cup final. Leading India’s charge in the final, the 36-year-old will allow Shubman Gill to take the back seat by launching an all-out attack on the Australian bowlers. Averaging 55, the India captain has smashed 550 runs in 10 World Cup games.

Also Read | ‘India would beat Australia in this World Cup final 95 times out of 100': Broad

Can lightning 'Starc' twice?

Hoping to deny India a fairytale finish at home, nothing is more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent for Aussie skipper Cummins. From defeating India in the World Test Championship final to retaining the Ashes, it has been a busy year for Cummins’ Australia. Despite being the darlings of high-profile encounters and events, Australia will have its back against an invincible Indian side at the World Cup final. India kickstarted its World Cup 2023 campaign with a six-wicket win over Australia at the Chepauk.

Veteran pacer Mitchell Starc wreaked havoc by opening Australia's account in its last World Cup 2023 match against India. Starc sparked a batting collapse as his early strike was followed by Jos Hazlewood handing Rohit a six-ball duck. All of a sudden, India were reduced to 2-3 in 1.6 overs at the time. Setting an unwanted record, India's top four batters recorded ducks for the first time in a 50-over match. Speedster Starc is the third all-time wicket-taker at the ODI World Cup. With 62 wickets to his name, the Aussie pacer is only behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Glenn McGrath. Starc famously cleaned up New Zealand's Brendon McCullum in the 2015 final of the ICC World Cup which eventually forced the Kiwis to settle on a below-par total. Let’s expect Rohit to fight tooth and nail then!

Why keep Shami waiting?

Though Mohammed Shami was made the warm the bench against Australia in the league phase, Cummins and Co. will still be wary of the veteran fast bowler. Shami rattled Australia (5 for 51) in the build-up to the World Cup 2023 at home. The star pacer was on target with his first ball of the ICC World Cup against New Zealand. Shami picked a wicket on his first ball again in the semi-final 1 of the ICC World Cup. If Jasprit Bumrah finds it difficult to give India a promising start, Shami should be brought into the attack early against Australia. The 33-year-old is India’s all-time leading wicket-taker at the ODI World Cup. Speed merchant Shami is also the fastest to 50 wickets in the history 50-over World Cup.

The battle of middle overs

Run machine Kohli is the top run-getter at the World Cup. Kohli has reached his second World Cup final after breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record for most ODI centuries in the semi-finals. Kohli and in-form Shreyas Iyer propelled India to a gigantic total against the Black Caps. Iyer has slammed back-to-back centuries in the World Cup 2023. Kohli and Iyer have accumulated 537 partnership runs in the World Cup. Australia will unleash Adam Zampa in the middle overs to prevent the most successful batting pair from scoring big in the final. Spinner Zampa has picked up 17 wickets - the most by any bowler in the middle overs.

Spinner Ravindra Jadeja will be Rohit's answer to Zampa. The veteran Indian spinner scalped the match-changing wickets of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne at Chennai. After recording a perfect 10 at the grandest, Rohit’s Team India can emulate Australia by defeating Cummins and Co. in the World Cup 2023 final. The incredible feat Rohit's Team India is hoping to achieve for the first time, Australia have done it twice. Five-time winners Australia were unbeaten in the 2003 and 2007 editions of the World Cup. Everything will come to a virtual standstill on Sunday in India when Rohit and Co. cross swords with Australia in the replay of the 2003 final at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

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