India have never displayed a more dominating performance in World Cups like they have in this edition. They were the underdogs in 1983 and won their maiden title against all odds. While they were one of the favourites in 2011, their performance was not flawless like this Rohit Sharma-led side’s. Mind casts back to the West Indies teams of 1975 and 1979 or the Australian invincibles of 2003 and 2007. The other teams would struggle to even compete, let alone win a match against them. India, in this World Cup, have done just done if not more. The only India match that was alive till probably the 40th over of the second innings was the semi-final against New Zealand. The other nine matches were mostly finished after the first powerplay of the second innings.
Runs from the top order, centuries from the middle order, wickets in the powerplay, wickets in the middle, reliable fielding, good catching – India have done everything possible on the cricket field. If there ever was a deserving team to win a World Cup, it has to be this Indian side. And it’s not like they haven’t had their share of troubles. As coach Rahul Dravid said, that they have been playing with their ‘plan B’ from the halfway stage of the tournament due to Hardik Pandya’s injury but even their second-best strategy has been no match for most other teams in this World Cup.
Now, they are up against Australia – the final hurdle. Leave aside the 1987 World Cup, Australia have entered an ICC tournament final as the second-best team. But this time, they are and by some distance.
Legendary England cricketer Stuart Broad said India would win the World Cup final 95 out of 100 times against Australia. They are that good.
“India are so powerful in their own conditions that I would say they would win this final 95 times out of 100,” Broad wrote in his column for Daily Mail.
“You only need to look down their line-up to gauge their strength: they’ve got a top six all of whom can score match-winning hundreds, while any of their bowlers can take a five-for. They’re the only team in the World Cup that you can say that about,” he said.
‘India like Brazil of football, Usain Bolt of Athletics’: Broad
Broad, the only pacer in world cricket other than teammate James Anderson to have taken more than 600 Test wickets, said there is a sense of inevitability in India winning this World Cup. It’s like Brazil winning football tournaments or Usain Bolt being the fastest in the 100m race, said Broad.
“India winning the World Cup is a bit like Brazil winning football’s equivalent. There is a bit of magic to it.
“And personally, I think it would be great for the game if India come out on top against Australia in Ahmedabad because it will inspire the next generation of cricket’s powerhouse, just as their 2011 triumph did.
“An Indian victory is the most marketable outcome for the sport — comparable to when Usain Bolt used to line up for the 100 metres. All of athletics’ stakeholders wanted him to win because it leads to bigger sponsorship, bigger TV rights, greater exposure for the sport.”
Broad also touched on the fact that Virat Kohli deserves to win a second world title on home solid after he became the first cricketer to hit 50 ODI centuries, bettering Sachin Tendulkar’s world record tally of 49.
“Given the career Virat Kohli has had, making 50 ODI hundreds, he deserves to be a double World Cup winner in his own country, too,” he added.
‘Australia the team that can upset India’: Braod
The former right-arm pacer, however, said if there is any team that could ‘upset’ India in this World Cup, it would be Pat Cummins-led Australia. According to Broad, Australia’s best bet to beat India is to bowl first, get Rohit and Kohli out early and restrict India to a low total.
“Australia are probably the only opponents — I would have said Pakistan pre-tournament — that could potentially upset India because they possess the bowling attack to blow the outstanding top order of the home side away.
“Australia’s route to producing a shock in my view is to win the toss, bowl, hope the ball nips around and for Mitchell Starc to get it right, hit Rohit Sharma on the shin, and Josh Hazelwood following up by nicking off Kohli.
“If they could cook up a situation of early wickets like that, placing India under pressure and limiting them to something like 220, you would expect Australia to knock the runs off.”