Australia ready to face India’s challenge in World Cup 2023 final

AHMEDABAD   -  Australia are adamant they will be “ready for anything” India throw at them in the ICC World Cup 2023 final after controversy hit the tournament in a ‘pitch switch’ row. India have been the form team of the World Cup, win­ning all 10 games on their way to Sunday’s showpiece match in Ahmedabad. But there was controversy in the lead-up to their 70-run semi-final win over New Zealand in Mumbai after it emerged the game was being played on a Wankhede Stadium pitch already used twice before during the tournament rather than a freshly-prepared surface. 

“No doubt playing on your own wicket in your own coun­try has some advantages,” Aus­tralia captain Pat Cummins told a pre-match press conference on Saturday. “But we’ve played a lot of cricket over here. “We’ll be ready in terms of anything they’ll throw at us…we’ll make sure we have some plans.” 

The pitch will be the same sur­face as the one on which India cruised to a seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the ICC World Cup 2023 group fixture, when they dismissed their arch-rivals for just 191 after winning the toss. “My understanding is it’s going to be on the slower side,” said India captain Rohit Sharma later Saturday. “But we have to assess what it is like tomor­row,” he added, pointing out that while there had been dew on the ground ahead of the Pakistan game, none appeared during the match itself. “That’s why I keep saying the toss is not going to be a factor, you’ve got to play well to win the game regardless of how well you know the conditions.” 

A used pitch had no major bearing on the Mumbai semi-final, with more than 700 runs scored in the game. Pat Cummins, asked if he had already seen the pitch for the final, replied: “Yeah, just had a look. It looked pretty firm…I think Pakistan played someone there!” Used pitches generally favour spinners, with slow bowling a key component of a five-man India attack where Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja are expected to bowl 20 of their 50 overs on Sunday. 

Australia have already won the World Cup a record five times and 30-year-old fast bowler Cum­mins, a member of the victorious 2015 side, was excited by having the opportunity to emulate the likes of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting by leading the team to another triumph. “It would be huge,” he said. “We were all kids not too long ago, watching some of those great teams win the 1999, 2003, 2007 World Cups.” He added: “To be captain would be an absolute privilege…it’d be awesome. “It (the World Cup) has got the longest history of a world event where all the teams compete. “You only get a shot at it every four years. So even if you have a long career, you might only play in two of these events. 2015 is still a career highlight for me, but I think tomorrow, if we win, might pip it.”

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