While the world is raging over Travis Head and what a majestic century he struck in the final against India to give Australia a sixth World Cup title, Marnus Labuschagne played an equally crucial innings. The partnership of Head and Labuschagne, which yielded 191 runs, sealed the game for Australia after they found themselves in trouble at 47/3 in a chase of 240. With a third wicket going down with Jasprit Bumrah getting Steve Smith out LBW in a shocker, the Indians sensed a big opening and welcomed Labuschagne to the wicket with all sorts of hostility.
As Marnus reached the striker’s end, Virat Kohli sarcastically clapped at him and said some words before giving him a long stare in between overs. Even Shreyas Iyer later chirped away at Labuschagne in the middle of his partnership with Head. But being icy cool and a level-headed campaigner, the Australian No. 4 went about his business in ignoring all that sledging thanks to the crowd of 92,000 strong that was present at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
“It was so loud and the wave of momentum India had was immense. The Indian team were getting into me and all I could say back, and very truthfully at that, was ‘I actually can’t hear what you’re saying over the crowd’. On this bus ride to the ground, there were fans lining the streets from about 5km out. It was amazing to see the fans get behind the game like they did,” Labuschagne said in his latest newsletter My World Cup Final Wrap.
“A sea of blue in the crowd. Chills as the anthem plays… a real ‘us vs. the world’ feeling. The underdog spirit we love.”
Like Kohli in 2011, Labuschagne became a World champion in his very first World Cup. Earlier this year, he was also part of the Australian team that had won the World Test Championship, also by beating India in the final at The Oval. But what makes this win in particular sweeter is the fact that Labuschagne wasn’t even in fray to represent Australia at the World Cup, and that it was only after Ashton Agar was ruled out with a calf injury that the doors opened for Marnus and he was added in the squad.
From being a doubtful starter to scoring a gritty half-century in the final is a moment Labuschagne won’t forget for a long time. Like his captain, Marnus loved silencing 1.3 lakh people, which began with the two big dismissals of Kohli – played on to a ball from Cummins – and captain Rohit Sharma, to an unbelievable catch from Head.
“Standing in the middle of a giant stadium with 130,000 fans in it who all went silent at this moment. We all just stood in the team huddle and took it in for a moment,” Labuschagne said about Kohli’s dismissal. It was huge in the context of the game. For Maxi to throw it up like he did and tempt Rohit into the shot, and then Heady to take this grab. It was massive,” he said on the Rohit wicket.
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