Virat Kohli covered his face with his India cap. Rohit Sharma walked off with his head down. What felt like the only cheers inside the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi stadium that was a sea of Indian blue all day came from the jubilant Australian players on the field.
Australia regained their status as the kings of one-day international cricket by claiming a record-extending sixth World Cup title on Sunday, ending India’s dominant run in its home tournament with a six-wicket victory in a low-scoring final on the back of a brilliant innings of 137 by Travis Head.
The crowd — officially announced as 92,453 — was silenced as Head combined with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out) in a 192-run partnership to chase down a target of 241.
Australia was wobbling in its chase on 47-3 after seven overs, but Head and Labuschagne dug in to help their country add to its 50-over world titles in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015.
Head was dismissed off what proved to be the next-to-last ball of the match, caught in the deep while attempting to hit a title-clinching boundary. In came Glenn Maxwell and he ran two off his first ball, securing a victory that prompted fireworks above the world’s largest cricket venue.
India won all 10 of its matches before the final and was seeking a third trophy in its fourth appearance in a title match that brought a country of 1.4 billion people to a virtual standstill.
However, they were outplayed in every department by battle-ready Australia, and were restricted to 240 all out on a slow pitch after losing the toss with only Virat Kohli (54) and Lokesh Rahul (66) making half-centuries.
“We were not good enough today,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said. “We tried everything, but it didn’t work. We needed 20 to 30 more runs — we were looking at 270 to 280, but we kept losing wickets. When you have 240 on the board, you want to keep taking wickets. We took three, but credit to Head and Labuschagne for their partnership. We couldn’t open up the game.”
Kohli finished with 765 runs in 11 games with an average of 95.62. He was named player of the tournament.
The final, though, belonged to Head who was named man of the match. He became only the seventh player to score a century in a men’s World Cup final — and the third Australian after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.
He also delivered a significant moment in India’s innings when taking a diving catch running back from cover to remove Sharma (47).
Head’s ton saw him join an illustrious list, which includes West Indies’ Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards, as well as Sri Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva and Mahela Jayawardene.
“It’s going to be an amazing couple of days now,” Head said. “To be able to do that on the biggest stage, in front of a full house, under all that pressure ... is something I’ll be able to look back on later in my life.”
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