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Five World Cup final matchups that could be decisive

Five World Cup final matchups that could be decisive

On Sunday, India will face Australia in the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final in Ahmedabad, with a number of key individual battles likely to determine the outcome.

It’s the biggest stage of all, and two of the best teams in the competition are facing off with the World Cup on the line. We look at five potential matchups that could decide the final on Sunday in Ahmedabad.

Virat Kohli versus Josh Hazlewood

Virat Kohli, fresh off a record 50th ODI ton, faces a massive negative match-up in the World Cup final in Ahmedabad. Kohli has been dismissed five times in 88 balls against Hazlewood in ODIs, including once in the World Cup league match between these two teams.

While Kohli made 85 before being bowled out by a Hazlewood short ball, Australia failed to capitalize on another chance Kohli gave off the same bowler earlier in the game. Mitchell Marsh bowled a diving chance after Hazlewood’s short ball had Kohli top-edging in the eighth over of the run chase, with Kohli on 12 and India’s score reading 20/3.

With the Indian maestro in such form, having racked up eight fifty-plus scores in ten innings, the Aussies must break through the Kohli barrier early to gain access to that strong middle-order. Hazlewood, whose stunning new-ball spell demolished South Africa in the semi-finals, could be crucial for Australia.

Mitchell Starc vs. Rohit Sharma

Few were surprised when Shaheen Afridi trapped Rohit Sharma in front for a golden duck in the first over of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup two years ago.

In 33 ODIs, Rohit has been dismissed by left-arm pace, 22 of which have come in the first 10 overs. Dilshan Madushanka snuck one past his bat to shatter the stumps during the World Cup at the Wankhede.

Mitchell Starc and the Australians are well aware of the threat Rohit poses during the Powerplay. The Indian captain has swung matches in the first ten overs, scoring at an astonishing rate of 133.08. If they decide to send Rohit back early, Starc could be crucial.

The left-arm quick bounced back from his poor tournament form with an impressive semi-final performance in Kolkata, but the exaggerated movement he displayed there may not be available in Ahmedabad. Even though the stakes are high, Rohit was undeterred in the semi-finals against Trent Boult. Who will be the first to blink in what could be a decisive battle?

Kuldeep Yadav vs. Glenn Maxwell

When Glenn Maxwell walked in to bat against the Proteas in the semi-final match at Eden Gardens, the score was 133/4.

He was beaten first up by Tabraiz Shamsi’s faster delivery and lasted only five balls in total, attempting a wild, across-the-line hoick but being cleaned up by the South African wrist spinner.

It’s just how Maxwell plays, and while you don’t see him belt spinners on one leg every day, the dismissal had an uncanny ring to it.

Maxwell fell to Kuldeep Yadav, another left-arm wrist spinner, on a similar turner against India in Chennai.

If Ahmedabad bowls another two-paced wicket, Maxwell will be wary of Kuldeep’s massive turn and the threat it poses. Maxwell’s dismissal in Chennai was his third against Kuldeep, but he has also scored at a rate of 143.5 against the Indian spinner in one-day internationals.

Steve Smith takes on Ravindra Jadeja.

The battle between Jadeja and Smith was one of the highlights of the thrilling Border-Gavaskar Trophy series at home earlier this year.

In the first Test in Nagpur, Jadeja completely deceived Smith, forcing him to play outside the line and ruining his stumps. Jadeja would dismiss Smith twice more in the series, as well as once more in the ICC World Test Championship final in England.

In 2023 alone, Jadeja has dismissed Smith five times across formats. The final, and arguably best, came in a league stage game in Chennai, when the left-arm spinner ripped one past Smith to bowl him.

Smith’s ODI record against Jadeja, on the other hand, is outstanding. He scores at a rate of more than 100 against him and has been dismissed only twice in over 200 balls. But it won’t matter if the ball kicks up clouds of dust in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

David Warner vs. Mohammed Shami

Is it possible to stop Mohammed Shami during the World Cup?

If there is, it will have to be conjured up by the Aussies on the biggest stage of all – the World Cup final, at a venue that has become very familiar with what Shami can do in short-ball formats over two IPL seasons.

Shami poses a significant threat to left-handers in particular. Shami has dismissed left-handers eight times in 52 balls this tournament, averaging a mind-boggling 4.00 against them.

Every seventh ball Shami has bowled to a left-hander this World Cup has resulted in a wicket.

David Warner is one player who will not be slowed down by such statistics. This tournament, Australia has used fire to counter right-arm pacers, but it has also resulted in five dismissals.

Warner and Travis Head, Australia’s only two left-handers in the top seven, bat at the top two positions. As good as Siraj is against left-handers, will Shami’s numbers tempt India to bowl him with the new ball?

 

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