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Cricket World Cup review: Australia deny home favourites India

Australia showed why they are the most successful team in Cricket World Cup history, upsetting home favourites India to claim their sixth title on Sunday.

Captain Pat Cummins led the Aussies to a six-wicket victory in Ahmedabad as India, who had won all nine of their group games before beating New Zealand in the semi-finals, slipped up at the final hurdle.

Opening defeat sets tone for England's sorry title defence

Defending champions England were regarded as the biggest threats to World Cup favourites India but Jos Buttler's men made a dismal start to the tournament.

Brilliant centuries from Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra powered New Zealand to a nine-wicket win over England in the tournament opener in Ahmedabad.

That set the tone for a woeful title defence from Buttler's men, who lost six of their first seven games including surprise defeats to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as well as a 229-run drubbing by South Africa.

The Proteas had racked up 428-5 in their opening game against Sri Lanka – the highest total of the tournament – and they won six of their first seven matches, with the only blot on their record a shock defeat to the Netherlands.

India, chasing just 200 to beat Australia in their first match, lost three of their top four batsmen for ducks before Virat Kohli and KL Rahul steered them to victory.

That was virtually the last time the hosts looked in trouble during a dominant group-stage campaign in which their bowlers skittled England for 129, Sri Lanka for 55 and in-form South Africa for 83.

Australia lost their first two games to India and South Africa but roared into the semi-finals thanks to a seven-match winning streak.

One of those wins was a remarkable three-wicket victory over Afghanistan in which Glenn Maxwell scored 201 not out off 128 balls to drag the Aussies from 91-7 to a target of 292.

Mitchell Marsh (177 not out against Bangladesh) and David Warner (163 against Pakistan) also went big for Australia during the group stage and South Africa opener Quinton de Kock scored four centuries in his first seven innings.

India, South Africa and Australia were joined in the semi-finals by New Zealand, who won their first four group games but lost their next four before a five-wicket victory against Sri Lanka.    

Afghans shine on World Cup stage

While 2019 champions England struggled, Afghanistan – who had lost all nine of their group games four years ago – briefly threatened to crash the semi-final party in India.

They bowled out England for 215 in a 69-run win, nailed impressive run-chases against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, and had Australia in all sorts of trouble before Maxwell's miraculous innings.

Pakistan finished fifth in the table despite racing to 200-1 off 25.3 overs to claim a dramatic rain-affected win over New Zealand while Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands ended up at the bottom of the standings with two wins and seven defeats from nine games.

Kohli's landmark ton takes India into final

India were hot favourites to extend their winning run at the tournament to 10 matches in the first semi-final against New Zealand at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

Their batsmen delivered the goods, piling up 397-4 thanks to centuries from Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer. Kohli's 117 was his 50th ODI ton, breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record, and the India superstar finished as the tournament's leading runscorer, amassing three centuries and six fifties in 11 innings.

New Zealand made a strong start to the run-chase, reaching 220-2 before skipper Kane Williamson was caught on the boundary for 69.

Daryl Mitchell kept the Kiwis afloat with a brilliant 134 but India fast bowler Mohammed Shami had the final word, taking 7-57 to seal a 70-run win for the trophy favourites.

Shami missed India's first four games but still ended up as the leading wicket-taker with 24, one clear of Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

The second semi-final was a tense, low-scoring contest between South Africa and Australia, who had identical group-stage records of seven wins and two losses.

The Proteas had never reached a World Cup final and they were soon on the back foot as top-class new-ball spells from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood reduced them to 24-4 in Kolkata.

David Miller's stunning century hauled his side to 212 all out but Australia raced to 60-0 from just six overs before South Africa's spinners put the brakes on their opponents.

The Aussies slipped from 106-2 to 174-6 but Josh Inglis (28), Starc (16 not out) and captain Cummins (14 not out) steered them to a nervy three-wicket win.   

Heroic Head silences the home fans in final

Australia skipper Cummins won the toss in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and invited India to bat first.

Home captain Rohit Sharma gave his side a flying start, scoring 47 off 31 balls, but a spectacular catch from Travis Head ended his innings and put Australia in the ascendancy.

Cummins swiftly removed the in-form Shreyas Iyer, who had scored 82, 77, 128 not out and 105 in his previous four innings, and bowled key man Kohli for 54.

KL Rahul's 66 held the India innings together but the lower-order failed to fire against Australia's impressive bowling attack and the favourites were bowled out for 240.

The early wickets of Warner, Marsh and Steve Smith raised hopes that India could defend that modest target but Head, man of the match in the semi-final win over South Africa, played another heroic innings.

He took charge of the chase, scoring 137 from 120 balls while Marnus Labuschagne offered solid support at the other end, finishing unbeaten on 58 to help Australia claim a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

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