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TRAVIS HEAD’S outstanding century carried Australia to World Cup glory for the sixth time as they downed all-conquering India to silence over 110,000 home fans in Ahmedabad.
The hosts brushed aside all comers — including Australia in their opening group game — as they marched to the final with a 100 per cent record, but came up short in a six-wicket loss in front of an enormous but increasingly morose crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
They posted a modest 240 all out after being sent in on a sluggish surface — just one run fewer than New Zealand and England tied with in the Lord’s showpiece four years ago — before watching Head take the game away from them with a masterful 137 from 120 balls.
Head played with aggression, imagination and self-belief on a worn pitch that left almost every other batter fumbling for the fluency he showed.
The 29-year-old was not even in the country when the campaign began, joining up late due to a fractured left hand that sidelined him for Australia’s first four matches, but the selectors’ faith paid off lavishly after he followed up his player-of-the-match effort in the semi-final against South Africa with something even better.
Watching from the other end as the score slipped to 47 for three, he slugged four sixes and 15 fours as he dominated a 192-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out).
Head deserved to carry his bat but fell with two runs needed, caught in the deep looking to end it in style, allowing new man Glenn Maxwell to hit the winning runs.
That confirmed another chapter in Australia’s proud story as an ODI side, joining the teams of 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015 in lifting the trophy and rounding off a marquee year that has seen them win the World Test Championship, also against India, and retain the Ashes.
Victorious captain Pat Cummins called correctly at the toss by sending the hosts in and took a vital haul of two for 34, while Mitchell Starc claimed three for 55 as he set the tone for an excellent bowling effort.
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