India vs Australia [Image Source- BCCI]

So, this is it then! After 7 weeks of pulsating action across the length and breadth of this beautiful country, it all comes down to Sunday, when hosts India will lock horns with their greatest rival, and five-time defending champions Australia, in front of 130,000 passionate Indian fans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The past 7 weeks have been the stuff of dreams as the Men in Blue tuned their skills to the zenith to not only crush their opposition with disdain but also earn the respect of the rival fans.

Most wins by a team in a single World Cup-

Australia- 11 [2003 2007]

India- 10* [2023]

Of course, it all started with Australia at the iconic Chepauk Stadium in Chennai on October 8th, where the home side recovered from an early collapse thanks to the duo of Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to chase down the target of 200.

Since then, it's been a seamless ride for the Rohit Sharma-led unit, with every player contributing towards this relentless juggernaut of 10 consecutive wins.

The 10th win has proved to be the sweetest one so far as it came in a semi-final and that too against India’s bogey side, New Zealand.

Bitten to death multiple times in the past by the Black Caps, the Indian team led by their inspirational captain, hit back with ruthless disdain to write a new fairytale on the ashes of crushed dreams of 2000, 2019, and 2021.

By doing that, not only did they remove old scars, but they also gave closure to a billion Indian fans, who have relived the pain of those defeats on loop all these years.

Read- CWC23: Invincible India Exorcise Past Scars To Set Up Date With Destiny

Nervous Fans await redemption as painful flashbacks of 2003 resurface

Sachin Tendulkar dismissed by Glenn McGrath in 2003 Final [Image Source- ICC]

As soon as it was confirmed that India would have to overcome the Australians if they wanted to lay their hands on the World Cup title on the 19th November, another set of painful flashbacks started doing the rounds.

And, rightly so to be honest. No team has dominated the deepest pits of dark memories in the hearts of Indian fans than the Aussies. Different generations of fans have their own set of scars related to Australia.

India vs Australia in 50-over WC knockouts

Total- 3,

Won by India- 1

Won by Australia- 2

Some of us can never forget that fateful day of March 23, 2003, when Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath crushed the hopes of a billion fans with ruthlessness.  20 years have passed since that depressing day, and the heartbroken kids at the time have now become adults but mention the 2003 WC final, and watch them turn into the same inconsolable kid again who still can't believe that the result of the match would have been different had Sourav Ganguly opted to bat first that day.

And, then there is ‘Gen Z’ which still can't get over that dark evening at the Sydney Cricket Ground from 2015 when the defending champions were stripped of their title.

Between these crushing blows, we defeated Australia in the 2011 Quarter-Final at the same venue where the summit clash will be held this time around. Beating Australia in the final of a World Cup is something India has never done, and on Sunday, fans of both vintage will wake up dreaming of finally getting closure.

Read-Virat Kohli: The King Who Reigned Supreme On His Birthday

2003-2023- A saga of a shift in power in India vs Australia rivalry

Virat Kohli walks off after getting dismissed by Mitchell Johnson [Image Source- Twitter]

To be honest, it is fitting that India will be locking horns with Australia in the World Cup final. For, no rivalry in the modern era has contributed more to this format than India vs Australia across all three formats.

Make no mistake, this final is 20 years in the making, but in reverse.

Twenty years ago, India ran into an all-conquering Australian team in the final of the showpiece event and were left disappointed. This time, it's India who are on a red-hot 10-0 streak, just as Australia were in 2003. This time it is India which will go into the final as firm favorites, and Australia as the underdogs.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and one can indeed say with confidence that the tables have well and truly turned in favor across all formats.

In the last 20 years, India have won two Test series Down Under, won every series at home, and dumped the defending champions in the Quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup besides clinching back-to-back victories in the quadrennial event in their past two meetings.

However, amid all this success, Australia have also contributed to India’s barren run in ICC events in the last decade by beating the then-defending champions in a one-sided semi-final at the SCG in 2015, and most recently in the WTC final.

Virat Kohli during his 85 vs Australia in 2023 WC [Image Source- BCCI]

The biggest pioneer of India’s dominance over Australia in the last decade, Virat Kohli, had a rare bad outing on that night, and while he did have his redemption earlier in this tournament, the champion cricketer will be raring to go.

The Narendra Modi Stadium will be swept in a sea of blue on Sunday with close to 130,000 fans including many from the Bharat Army family hoping to see Team India do an Australia on Australia and finally close the dark chapters of 2003 & 2015 and etch their names in history books. Can they do that? Of course they can, WE BELIEVE! 

Featured Image Credit: BCCI