A billion Indian hearts broke again, but none more painful than the 11 who gave their all over the last 45 days. India may not have won the 2023 World Cup, going down to Australia in the final by six wickets, but the way they turned up and put on a show throughout the tournament has been nothing short of a dream. But sometimes, things are simply not meant to be, and that’s the harsh reality of sports. Four years ago, it was New Zealand, today India. And that’s exactly why some of the biggest stars in Indian cricket could not help control their tears and sobbed like little children on missing out on their best opportunity to win cricket’s ultimate prize.
Mohammed Siraj was in tears even as Jasprit Bumrah tried to console him, KL Rahul down on his knees, Virat Kohli had to hide his face with a cap as he walked back after Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs for Australia. But the most gut-wrenching of all sight was to see captain Rohit Sharma unable to hold back tears. Rohit put up a strong, sporty face as he shook hands with every member of the opposition, congratulated his own teammates but when the dust settled, quietly walked off into the dugout with moist eyes.
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These are grown men breaking down. Once again, just an example of how unfair sports can be. This team did everything right, only to unfortunately stumble on the final hurdle. They chased down targets, defended them with equal aplomb, until tonight… as a better team, who rose like phoenix after defeats in the first two games, outplayed and outperformed India on the grandest stage of them all.
But on the day, the pieces simply didn’t fit. Indian batting, that has in the last month-and-a-half struck fear in the hearts and minds of oppositions, could only jaywalk to 240. And with the ball, despite making early inroads at 47/3, conceded a 192-run partnership that eventually snatched the game away from them. Travis Head, the man who tormented India in the World Test Championship final, played arguably the greatest knock in the final of a World Cup. Yes, there are some big names – Ricky Ponting, Viv Richards, Aravinda de Silva and Adam Gilchrist, but on sheer grounds of the occasions, conditions, the bowling attack, Head’s innings takes the cake.
“What an amazing day! Just thrilled to be a part of it. It’s a lot better than seeing the World Cup on the couch at home (on his injury). I was a little bit nervous but Marnus played exceptionally well and soaked all the pressure. I felt the way Mitch [Marsh] took the game on set the tone and that was the energy we wanted. It was a great decision to bowl first and the wicket got better as the game went on. It paid dividends and nice to play a role. Again, it is something I work hard on and nice to hold on and contribute in front of a full house. Definitely third on the list and nice to contribute,” Head, named Player of the Match, said.