Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been superb in the tournament. — X
India face Australia in what promises to be a thrilling Cricket World Cup final in front of a capacity 132,000 crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Tournament hosts India have won all 10 games as they bid for a third World Cup title and second on home soil.
But if any side can stop the India juggernaut then Australia — aiming for a record-extending sixth World Cup crown — could be that team.
This Indian team, though, have been ruthlessly brilliant in the tournament.
Here are the five reasons why India are the favourites in the final.
Rohit’s form and leadership
Rohit Sharma during a practice session in Ahmedabad on Friday. — PTI
India captain Rohit Sharma has instilled an aggressive attitude in his team, with the opener leading from the front.
Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer took the batting plaudits with two fine hundreds in a 70-run semi-final win over New Zealand as India piled up a huge 397-4 in Mumbai.
But it was Rohit who first demoralised New Zealand pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee with a rapid 29-ball 47 that ensured India were in command from the start.
Mohammed Shami celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson. — Reuters
It has been a similar story in the field. Even if opposition opening batsmen can survive against India’s new-ball duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, they then have to face Mohammed Shami.
The seamer is the tournament’s leading bowler with 23 wickets from just six matches, with his devastating 7-57 against New Zealand the best bowling figures in any World Cup semifinal.
Ahmedabad is also Shami’s home ground as he plays for Gujarat Titans in the IPL. He knows the conditions very well.
KL Rahul’s all-round brilliance
Virat Kohli (left) celebrates as KL Rahul takes a catch of New Zealand’s Devon Conway. — PTI
Rahul came back from a long injury layoff and hit the ground running in the Asia Cup with some superb performances with the bat.
The Karnataka player has continued with the same rhythm in the World Cup, starting with a magnificent innings against Australia in the opening match.
He has also been outstanding behind the wickets as the team’s wicketkeeper.
Australia’s batting struggle in semis
David Warner walks back after he was dismissed by South Africa’s Aiden Markram. — PTI
Australia may have won eight straight matches after losing the first two games, but it wasn’t a smooth sailing for them in the semifinal.
Chasing a modest target of 213 against South Africa, the Australians really had to dig deep for victory at the Eden Gerdens.
While South Africa’s bowlers did put up a strong fight, the challenge for the Australian batters will be much bigger against the in-form Indian bowling attack.
Support of 132,000 fans
Indian fans during the match against Pakistan at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on October 14. — AFP
India have coped well so far with the burden of expectation placed upon them by billions of followers in a cricket-crazy country and have already defeated Australia at the tournament by six wickets in Chennai back on October 8.
But they have not won a major piece of ICC silverware since the 2013 Champions Trophy.
This is the best chance to end the jinx. So far, they have shown great skills and resilience in the tournament.
And don’t forget, they will be passionately backed by 132,000 Indian fans at the world’s largest cricket stadium.
Of course, you can never write off the formidable Australians, but this Indian team have what it takes to win the trophy again. (With inputs from AFP)
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