Cricket World Cup: Will final against India be last lap of honour for Australia’s veterans?

Australia come up against India in the Cricket World Cup final but this may be the last time we see this squad playing together in ODIs; Watch the Cricket World Cup final as India take on Australia, live on Sky Sports Cricket on November 19 with build up from 7.30am.

Image: Australia's David Warner has scored two centuries so far during the 2023 Cricket World Cup

When the Australian team steps out at the biggest stadium in the world for the final showdown on Sunday, it might be the last time we see this ODI squad together. 

After meandering through various parts of India, the curtains will be drawn in the western city of Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium where Australia will meet the tournament hosts.

But this outcome seemed unlikely at first.

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Prior to the tournament, Australia lost their five-match ODI match series against South Africa 3-2 and their three-match series against India 2-1. During their fourth Test against the Proteas, leg-spinner Adam Zampa equalled the record for most runs conceded by a bowler in a one-day international.

The five-time World Cup champions also began their World Cup campaign poorly with back-to-back defeats, first losing to India in their opener and then suffering their heaviest World Cup defeat to South Africa.

However, the Australian side went through a regeneration which saw them win all their remaining seven games in the group stage, peaking at the right time, and knocking out a spirited South Africa in the semi-finals to claim their place in Sunday’s showpiece.

Image: Australia's captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc celebrate their semi-final win over South Africa

When Australia were struggling, questions were asked about whether the age of the team was a factor.

After England, Australia are the second oldest team in the tournament with an average squad age of 31.73 years. Opener David Warner is the most senior at 36-years-old and Cameron Green is the youngest at 24.

However, when placed under pressure, they stepped up at the right time. Zampa, 31, took three consecutive four-fers, against Sri Lanka (4-47), Pakistan (4-53) and the Netherlands (4-8).

Warner has two centuries to his name while Travis Head, 29, hit a 59-ball century in his first game back from a broken hand.

Image: Australia's Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of South Africa's captain Temba Bavuma during the semi-final

Glenn Maxwell, 35, hit the World Cup’s fastest century in 40 balls against the Netherlands in Delhi. He beat Aiden Markram’s record of 49 balls, set 18 days prior during South Africa against Sri Lanka.

Maxwell’s cameo continued against Afghanistan when he hit an astonishing double hundred that was described by skipper Pat Cummins as “the greatest ODI innings that has ever happened.”

Steve Smith, 34, hasn’t powered in this tournament with a highest score of 71 against the Netherlands. However, the right-handed batter will need to make sure he contributes significantly during the final if Australia are to come within touching distance of the trophy.

Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain echoed this: “Someone like Steve Smith, who has had a quiet tournament, will need to get a big 100. Australia have to get above par with bat and ball to beat this India side.”

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Ian Ward, Eoin Morgan and Nasser Hussain preview the Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia.

From a bowling perspective, seamers Josh Hazlewood, 32, and Pat Cummins, 30, have been taking regular wickets while pace-bowler Mitchell Starc, 33, has been making important breakthroughs to remove key players. But considering the age of this attack, they may not feature in next ODI World Cup.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia will host the 2027 World Cup and by then many of Australia’s current senior players will be in their mid-to-late thirties and possibly retired from this format.

It is therefore fitting that their last lap of honour will take place in India, the same country in which Australia won their first ever ODI World Cup in 1987.

If Sunday does mark the changing of the guard for Australian ODI cricket, a few things are certain: Underestimating Australia is dangerous, the theatrics of Warner and Smith will never be forgotten, and beating a seemingly invincible India will go down as one of biggest upsets in sporting history.

Watch the Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.30am on Sunday (8.30am first ball). Hindi coverage starts at 8.20am on Sky Sports Mix.

Stream the Cricket World Cup and more top sport with NOW


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