Match-ups that could potentially decide the winner of Sunday’s ICC World Cup final between India and Australia, in Ahmedabad.

India and Australia, the two best teams of the 2023 ODI World Cup, duly made it to the final, and Sunday’s summit clash, at the Narenrda Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, holds the promise a series of fascinating individual battles.

India, the only unbeaten side in the tournament, have hardly put a foot wrong while Australia haven’t looked back since back-to-back defeats at the start of the tournament.

As 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 testament to their envious record.

Here’s a look at match-ups that could potentially decide the winner.

Rohit versus new ball bowers Starc, Hazlewood

India captain Rohit Sharma has walked the talk by taking on the bowlers in the opening powerplay throughout the tournament. His high-risk game has released the pressure of the other batters and allowed the likes of Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill to build their innings.

Rohit dancing down the track and dispatching Trent Boult over cover for a six in the third over of the semi-final summed up the Indian skipper’s fearless approach over the course of the long and draining tournament.

The big question: can he pull it off against Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell 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.

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 semi-final, 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 David Warner and Travis Head, India’s skipper will be tempted to hand the new ball to Shami.

Virat versus Zampa

Virat Kohli has often struggled against left-arm spinners, but leg-spinner Adam Zampa too has troubled him and got the special wicket of the Indian superstar as many as eight times.

The battle between the 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 quick singles and twos 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 Kohli attempt to charge down the track and surprise Zampa?

Kuldeep versus Maxwell

It is testament to Kuldeep Yadav’s sublime skills that barring Daryl Mitchell, no batter went on the offensive against the left-arm wrist spinner.

Mitchell targetted the straight boundary against Kuldeep in Dharamsala but a freak like Glenn 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. The Aussie 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.

Warner versus Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah, who has taken 18 wickets in 10 games with an incredible economy rate of 3.98, is yet to dismiss David Warner in ODIs in 14 games.

Warner has collected 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.

  • World Cup 2023

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