The Golden Quest: India's Mission to Create Cricketing History in World Cup Final
India's Pursuit of World Cup Glory
They have been described by many pundits and supporters alike as the greatest ODI Indian team to grace a cricket field. But India’s ten consecutive wins at the 2023 Cricket World Cup will count for nought if Rohit Sharma and his colleagues do not lift the trophy at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday night local time.
For several years now, India has threatened to establish a world-dominant dynasty across all three formats of the likes of which has not been seen since the Australian side of the 2000s.
But there’s no escaping the fact that, despite now occupying the ICC’s number one ranking in Tests, ODIs and T20Is, India’s men’s national team has not won a major trophy since MS Dhoni lifted Nuwan Kulasekara over long-on to send the Wankhede Stadium and the rest of the country into raptures.
A repeat home World Cup title in 2023 would have a lasting legacy on Indian culture that transcends the political and socioeconomic tensions that trouble various states and cities from year to year.
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Historical Significance: Celebrating Cricket Victories
To understand just how much World Cup wins mean to the nation of India, one needs only to be reminded that then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a national holiday upon their inaugural title win in 1983, whilst the state of Maharashtra did so in 2011 so the city of Mumbai could enjoy a day of celebrations.
Whilst there has been no such whispers (yet) of Narendra Modi doing such a thing in 2023, perhaps that’s a reflection of the great expectations that have been weighing upon the squad with increasing intensity.
“India Seek a Perfect 11”, declared the Times of India newspaper on Tuesday, one day before they even clinched a tenth straight win with a commanding semi-final victory to progress to Sunday’s final.
It perhaps refers not only to the perfect 11 wins to secure their first World Cup in 12 years, but the perfect 11 players to deliver the elation of the triumph to India’s 1.4 billion citizens.
The Australian teams of the 2003 and the 2007 World Cups are the only two to have won World Cups with 11 consecutive victories, so this Indian class of 2023 would have every right to be considered
There are several players in the current Indian side at the peak of their powers and a handful of their best are not expected to be around for the 2027 edition, making this their best but final chance at World Cup glory.
Five of the starting XI from the semi-final victory over India are aged 31 or older, whilst a further two (Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj) are on the verge of turning 30 - as is Hardik Pandya, who would have been in the side were it not for his tournament-ending injury.
Former player, head coach and now television commentator Ravi Shastri even went as far as to predict that India would have to wait another 12 years to win the ODI World Cup if they cannot do it this weekend. As has been widely discussed throughout the tournament, there’s no guarantee the tournament will even continue that long!
Nor is there any such thing as a guarantee that India will be triumphant come Sunday. But has there ever been a World Cup team that has looked more likely or more destined for glory - yes, even including the Aussies of the 2000s?
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Strengths, Setbacks, and Team Dynamics
It’s not even as though everything had fallen right into place for India along the way. They lost star all-rounder Hardik Pandya after four matches, which threatened to destabilise the balance of their lineup, started the tournament without Shubman Gill (who prior to the World Cup was by far the most prolific ODI scorer of 2023 with 1230 runs in 20 matches), and that’s not to mention the immense pressure that must come with being expected to win the trophy at home.
But there has hardly been a chink in their armour, with five batters scoring 350+ tournament runs at averages of 50+ and four bowlers racking up 15+ wickets at economy rates of 5.01 or better. It’s ironic that leading wicket-taker Mohammed Shami got to make his six appearances only because of Hardik’s injury, but it is just one illustration of the envious depth that the team has had at this tournament.
A win on Sunday will not only be the fruits of more than a decade of labour from veterans such as Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and current captain Rohit Sharma, but it will confirm the beginning of the Indian dynasty.
The Road to the Final and Speculations
The West Indies were the team to fear throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before Australia took the mantle in the 1990s and 2000s following the advent of World Series Cricket.
England’s white ball team had their turn in the 2010s but their performance at this tournament shows it’s time to move on and inaugurate a new king in world cricket.
India have laid one hand on the crown for several years but have continued to fall agonisingly short when it comes to World Cups, Champions Trophies and World Test Championships.
Their destiny - and the finishing touches of the formation of an Indian dynasty - is firmly in their own hands.
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