Who: India vs Australia
When: Sunday, November 19, 2023, 2pm (08:30 GMT)
Where: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad, India
India captain Rohit Sharma insists the “emotions” and “pressure” as hosts of the Cricket World Cup will not get to his side in Sunday’s final.
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India have long been the heavy favourites for the tournament and, with a perfect 10 so far in this edition, nothing has changed in advance of their showdown with Australia in Ahmedabad.
It would be a third World Cup for India, building on the home win in 2011 that saw an eruption of joy across the nation of 1.5 billion people.
“Emotionally it’s a big, big thing,” Rohit said before the final.
“Leading up to every game we have been quite composed, quite calm about what we want to do because we know how it is outside the environment we have.
“The expectations and the pressure, criticism and everything, so it’s important we stick to our strength and what we want to do as a team.
“Along with me, all other 10 players who will play on the ground, their focus will be more on their work for the team, rather than thinking about ‘this is the biggest moment of my life’.”
— ICC (@ICC) November 18, 2023
The 130,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad is the biggest cricket ground in the world.
The 2011 final was held at the Wankhede Stadium Mumbai where MS Dhoni lifted the trophy after overcoming co-hosts Sri Lanka.
Aside from that win, India have underwhelmed at the World Cup ever since their 2003 defeat in the final to Australia.
India coach Rahul Dravid was on the losing side that day and Rohit says they want to rectify matters for Dravid, who was part of the abortive 2007 campaign and then lost his place by the time of the 2011 win.
“His role has been immense,” Rohit said of the team’s coach. “Obviously, what he has done for Indian cricket is massive. And he also feels that he wants to be part of this big occasion. It’s for us to do it for him.”
For anyone facing India in the final, it would have been a monumental task.
If there is one team to upset the odds though, it is the five-time winners Australia.
Indeed, Indian spinner Jayant Yadav, who did not make the squad, told Al Jazeera before the tournament that if anyone can stop India it would be the team from down under.
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) November 18, 2023
‘Nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent’
What lies in store for Australia is quite clear and captain Pat Cummins, says his team must “embrace” the challenge of facing their opponents, the enormous crowd in Ahmedabad Stadium and the will of 1.5 billion people.
“You’ve got to embrace it, the crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided,” Cummins said.
“Also in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying [as an opposition player] than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us.
“You’ve just got to embrace every part of it, every part of a final – you know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed.
“You got to be up for it, you got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine but you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”
The right-arm seamer, 30, has been much needed with the bat, including in the semifinal against South Africa.
The spotlight of facing the hosts in the final is not something that holds any fear for Cummins or his team, as most play alongside the Indian players in the Indian Premier League.
“We play over here in India a lot so the noise is not something new,” he said.
“On this scale, it’s probably bigger than we would have experienced before, but it’s not something totally foreign.
“Everyone deals with it slightly differently – you see Davey [Warner] probably dancing and winning the crowd over, other guys just staying in their own bubble – it should be good.”
It's time for a re-match 🤜🤛 pic.twitter.com/Yo8T6wEOvs
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) November 18, 2023
Australian legend Jason Gillespie told Al Jazeera in his preview of the final that while India are a great side, they are still “ripe for the taking“.
The hosts have won all 10 games to this stage, including their opening match against Australia in which they recovered from the loss of three early wickets with only two runs on the board to chase down 200.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Cummins. “They’ve been playing really well – undefeated this tournament.
“But we know at our best we can give them a good shake.”
Australia beat India in the World Test Championship in England earlier this year in advance of their Ashes tour, which they retained by drawing the series.
This would mark quite the remarkable hat-trick for Australia and quite the double over India.
In return, the disappointment of the Test Championship final at the Oval for India would be erased – probably a billion and a half times over.
Head to head
India have won 57 of the ODI meetings between these sides while Australia have claimed 83 victories.
The most famous being the 2003 final in Johannesburg, which the Aussies won by 125 runs.
The last 10 meetings are split equally but the hosts do have the group-stage victory at this year’s tournament.
Both teams are now flying at the World Cup. Australia recovered from defeats in their opening two games to win eight consecutively.
India are a perfect 10 at the tournament so far – but will the final be their “banana skin”?
India: W W W W W
Australia: W W W W W
India team news
India will only make a change if a late injury occurs. It would be tempting for the hosts to pick spinner Ravi Ashwin, were it not for the injury that ruled Hardik Pandya out of the second half of the World Cup.
Without the allrounder to balance the side, India have no choice but to stick with the three seamers that have served them so well since Pandya limped out of the third match of the tournament.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj
Australia team news
Australia are likely to be unchanged, but it’s possible they may opt for Marcus Stoinis, if they decide to go with an extra allrounder and remove one of the recognised batters.
Predicted XI: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood