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India will be backed by a vast, parochial crowd in the World Cup final at Narendra Modi Stadium. Image by EPA PHOTO
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Australia chasing sound of silence in World Cup final

Jasper Bruce November 19, 2023

The satisfaction of silencing a 130,000-plus capacity stadium packed with parochial fans will drive Australia as they pursue an almighty upset in the cricket World Cup final against hosts India.

On Sunday, India can become the first team since Australia in 2007 to make it through a World Cup undefeated, having breezed through to their first decider since 2011.

The closest any side has come to defeating world No.1 India was New Zealand in the group stage, but even then, the hosts won by four wickets with two overs to play as Mohammed Shami took 5-54.

For their part, Australia fell by six wickets against India in their first match but have since pieced together an eight-game winning streak that has them through to their eighth decider in pursuit of a sixth title.

“(India) have certainly played really well this World Cup,” Australian captain Pat Cummins said.

“I think we certainly didn’t, I don’t think we scored par in that first game but we’re one catch away from potentially being in front of that game. 

“We won an ODI series here early on in the year. There’s lots of moments we can draw on where we’ve had success against a really good Indian side.”

Working in India’s favour will be their passionate fanbase packing out the biggest cricket ground in the world: Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, which has room for 132,000 seated punters.

The crowd at the only other game India have played there during the tournament, against Pakistan, was so one-sided that Pakistan’s team director Mickey Arthur remarked it “didn’t seem like an ICC event, it seemed like a BCCI event”.

Australia have a better sense of the hostile conditions ahead than most, though.

Of their 15-player World Cup squad, 13 have played in the Indian Premier League and since the beginning of 2019, India have hosted Australia for six white-ball series.

“On this scale (the crowd) is probably bigger than we would have experienced before but it’s not something totally foreign to what we’ve had before,” Cummins said.

“The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but also in sport, there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow.

“You’ve just got to embrace every part of it, every part of a final even when you know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed. 

“You’ve got to be up for it, you’ve got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine but you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”

Australia have no fitness concerns heading into the final but could choose to recall all-rounder Marcus Stoinis if conditions appear more batter-friendly. 

Marnus Labuschagne would be the man likely to drop out of the XI in that case.

“Those are things we weigh up before every game,” Cummins said.