.The ICC World Cup 2023 unfolded as a captivating saga of skill, drama and indelible moments etched in the annals of cricketing history. As Australia lifted a sixth ODI World Cup, beating hosts India on Sunday night, it drew to an end over six weeks of cricket played across the nation.
As Rohit Sharma and team recover from their one single loss in the tournament and Australia celebrate their title win, it's time to reflect on the top 10 moments that defined this cricketing spectacle.
Rachin's Ton in WC Opener: A Star is Born
Rachin Ravindra, just 24, kicked off the ICC World Cup 2023 with a splendid century on the opening day, against England.
England, who were put into bat first, only managed to score 282 runs on a flat track in Ahmedabad. New Zealand opener Will Young was dismissed for a duck by Sam Curran. The chase was well and truly on.
In came the 24-year old prodigy to make the grandest stage his own. His maiden century came off 82 balls including 9 fours and 4 sixes. His unbroken stand of 273 runs with Conway is New Zealand’s highest in any tournament. Not to mention that he had bowled his full-quota of 10 overs in the first innings and picked up a wicket too.
Netherlands beat South Africa, Pull Off Major Upset
Netherlands secured their first win of the tournament after defeating the in-form South Africa. After their win against SA in the T20 WC last year, Netherlands certainly had a statement to make for everyone who called it a “shock”.
In a game shortened by rain, Netherlands put up 245/8 on the board which the Proteas had to chase in just 43 overs. The iconic setting in Dharmshala acted as the perfect setup for them to defend their total and restricted South Africa to 207.
The Dutch captain, Scott Edwards, was awarded the Player of the Match for his 78*(69) and marshalling his troops on the field. Logan van Beek picked up three wickets while Roelof van der Merwe and Bas de Leede picked up two wickets each as they won by a comfortable margin of 38 runs.
Afghanistan's Big Upsets Against Pakistan and England
The first “upset” in this World Cup came when the defending champions, England were thrashed by Afghanistan winning by a huge margin of 69 runs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz probably took away the match in the powerplay itself scoring 80 off just 57 balls. The Afghani spinners made no mistake in sealing the deal.
After upsetting England, it was now time for Pakistan. After losing seven ODIs against them, Afghanistan finally managed to register their first win over them - by 8 wickets. Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran were clinical once again, reaching their respective fifties off 38 and 54 balls, setting Afghanistan on course to its highest successful run chase, of 282/7.
England Bowled Out for 156, Knocked Out With 3 Wins
With only one win in four games, England's 26 October match against Sri Lanka was an important one for them to be able to stay in contention for the semis. However, Sri Lanka managed to bowl them out for 156 in 33.2 overs even though Ben Stokes' 43 off 73 gave some hope late in the innings of a revival. But much like their campaign, those were not to be as Sri Lanka chased down the target with much ease in 25.4 overs.
Two matches later, their 33 run loss to Australia completely shut the doors on the defending champions' campaign that ended with them in the seventh position in the standings with just 3 wins.
Shami's Incredible Run, After Late Inclusion
Mohammed Shami's was as stellar as any individual performance during the ICC World Cup 2023. He wasn't a stater in India's campaign and missed the first four games, but when Hardik Pandya's injury forced Rohit Sharma to make changes - Shami ensured he would hold his spot for the rest of the tournament, picking a fifer in the very first game, against New Zealand.
He followed it up with a 4/22 versus England and then produced the best spell of the tournament with a 5/18 against Sri Lanka during which he also became the leading wicket-taker for India in World Cups, overtaking Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath at 44 wickets.
Despite playing only 7 matches in the tournament, the Indian pacer still finished as the highest wicket-taker, with 24 scalps.
De Kock and Klassen Light Up Wankhede
Playing Bangladesh in his 150th ODI, Quinton de Kock rose to the occasion smashing 174 off just 140 balls, an innings that featured 15 fours and 7 sixes.
The 200 was well and truly on but de Kock didn’t want to slow the momentum in any way. He kept hitting the ball and eventually fell short trying to hit a low full toss outside off stump in the 46th over. It is a bittersweet feeling for the fans to accept that he would be retiring from ODIs after this World Cup.
Heinrich Klassen at the other end, seemed to take inspiration from this knock and lived his own destiny. His 90 off just 49 balls at a massive strike rate of 183.67 propelled SA to 382/5. Bangladesh had no answers whatsoever and lost the game by 149 runs.
Angelo Matthews’ 'Timed Out' Wicket
In one of the most controversial events during this World Cup, Sri Lankan veteran Angelo Matthews became the first batter to be 'timed out' in men’s international cricket.
Matthews walked into bat after Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Samarawickrama for 42. He took some time to get to the crease but just before taking his stance, the strap of his helmet broke following which he called for a replacement from the dugout.
While this happened, Shakib appealed for his wicket and Matthews was given out for not being ready to face the first ball within the stipulated time of 2 minutes.
Matthews was left livid about the call and said, “It is obviously disgraceful from Shakib and Bangladesh; if they want to play cricket like that, stooping down to that level, I think there’s something drastically wrong”.
Glenn Maxwell’s Miracle 201*
Probably the greatest moment in this World Cup came when the Big Show decided to take things in his own hand and do The Impossible.
Afghanistan, carrying their brilliant form, with four wins, needed just one win more to solidify their claim to the semis. They posted a decent target of 291 at the Wankhede.
Australia's chase was in shambles as they were down to 91/7. However, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins had other plans. They put on a record partnership of 202 runs to take their side home- with Cummins only contributing 12 runs to the partnership.
The star of the game was Maxwell, who was cramping severely during the innings but made sure to score 201 (off 128) and pulled off one of the greatest runchases in the history of the game. He did break many records in the process like being the only non opener in ODIs to score a double hundred and for the highest individual score in a successful run-chase.
India Overcome New Zealand in Semis
After 9 straight wins in the league stage, India faced New Zealand in the semis in a repeat of the 2011 edition in England.
To ensure there were no repeats of that semi-final, India registered the highest total in a World Cup knockout batting first at the Wankhede, putting 397 runs on the board. Kohli scored his 50th ODI century breaking Sachin’s record for the most ODI tons in front of him at his home ground.
Shreyas Iyer, continuing his remarkable form, became the only Indian middle order batsman other than his coach, Rahul Dravid, to score back-to- back centuries in a World Cup. He ended with 105 off just 70 balls, hitting 8 sixes- the most by an Indian batsman in a WC innings.
However, the Player of the Match award didn't go to either but Mohammad Shami instead trumped them to the trophy with 7 wickets in the game.
Australia Win World Cup for a Record 6th Time
After 6 weeks of auction, it was all down to one last match on Sunday, 19 November in Ahmedabad.
It was India vs Australia in the final and Pat Cummins' team, defying most odds, broke a billion Indian hearts to lift the World Cup for a record 6th time, out of 12 that have been played.
Having won the toss, Cummins was brave enough to stick to his plans and take the bowl first. Despite another quick start from Rohit and a crisp fifty from Virat’s bat, India were only able to put 240 on the board. The Aussies looked electric in the field right from the very first ball fighting for glory. Their intensity was a true reflection of what they were here to achieve.
It was all down to the Indian bowlers to make a game out of it and they did manage to start strong, reducing the Aussies to 47/3 at one point.
Travis Head, the Player of the Match from the semis, continued his form and scored 137 off just 120 balls while Labuschange held the innings from the other end as they got the team past the finish line.