Can King Kohli be stopped? Talking points ahead of World Cup final

By Sports Desk November 18, 2023

After seven weeks and 47 matches, the 2023 Cricket World Cup finally reaches its conclusion on Sunday and only the strongest survive.

Hosts India have waltzed serenely through the competition, while Australia have rediscovered their fighting instincts after a slow start.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key issues ahead of the winner-takes-all battle.

Can King Kohli be stopped

With over 300 million followers on social media, Virat Kohli transcends his sport. But with 711 runs in 10 matches to date, he has also proved that he masters it too. Kohli has been in majestic form over the past few weeks, standing up remarkably to sky-high expectations. He has passed 50 eight times and celebrated three centuries. Having failed to deliver a global title as captain, it increasingly appears to be his destiny to deliver one for successor Rohit Sharma. If they are to win, Australia simply must prevent him holding court.

Seam supremacy

Both sides have pace bowlers who can wreak havoc when they are on a roll and an unplayable spell from any one of them could be decisive. In Mohammed Shami, India boast the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with the wily quick claiming a staggering 23 wickets at 9.13 despite sitting out four group matches. He has stolen the spotlight so far, but Jasprit Bumrah is built for the big occasions and will fancy leaving his mark on the final. Australia, meanwhile, lean heavily on the ‘big three’ of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who dovetail brilliantly with their distinct set of skills. Keeping them out of the wickets while maintaining a strong scoring rate remains one of the trickiest challenges around.

Pitch imperfect?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India caused a controversy ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand, switching the pre-agreed pitch for an alternative strip at the eleventh hour. The International Cricket Council’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was understood to be angry about the barely explained change and flew to Ahmedabad to oversee matters ahead of the final. His recommendation, pitch number five at the Narendra Modi Stadium, has been followed this time but once again it is a used surface having previously hosted India’s game against Pakistan on October 14. A fresher track would be fitting for a game of this magnitude but a worn surface favours the home side, who boast greater spin options. Australia will be paying close attention to how well it plays.

Powerplay positioning

Despite the strength of the new-ball attacks, both teams are built to attack in the first 10 overs. India lead off with their fearless captain Rohit Sharma and the incorrigible driver Shubman Gill, while Australia look to dominate through the trailblazer-turned-veteran David Warner and the in-form Travis Head. All four openers have the ball-striking ability to take the game away from opponents and it will not have escaped anybody’s notice that the team who bosses the powerplay head-to-head is the team that typically wins in these conditions. Of the quartet, 37-year-old Warner is in the most interesting position as he retires from the format at the end of the match. Nothing would vex this tigerish competitor more than bowing out without getting his punches in first.

Related items

  • England's Super 8s fate rests in Scotland's hands after Namibia win England's Super 8s fate rests in Scotland's hands after Namibia win

    England's hopes of making it to the Super 8s are still alive after a 41-run victory on DLS over Namibia on Saturday.

    The rain heavily delayed the start in Antigua, reducing the match to a 10-over-a-side game.

    Despite the must-win nature of the match, England's openers got off to a slow start with Jos Buttler bowled for a duck while Phil Salt was dismissed for just 11.

    Harry Brook was the star with 47 not out, with Jonny Bairstow's 31 adding to their cushion, though Ruben Trumpelmann finished strongly for Namibia with a 2-31.

    With England finishing on 122-5, Namibia were set a target of 127 on DLS, and their chase got off to a steady start, but by the halfway point, Namibia still needed 92 runs from 30 balls.

    Shortly after, Niko Davin retired with 18, and two big catches by Brook took out Michael van Lingen (33) and David Wiese (27) ensured England eased to victory.

    Now, England need to hope that Australia beat Scotland in their Group B match, otherwise, the holders will be going out in the group stage.

    Data Debrief: England's hopes stay alive

    Brook was the standout performer for England on both sides today, stalling Nambia's admittedly slow chase, while contributing the most to their run chase with a knock including four fours and two sixes.

    It is his largest run total at the World Cup so far, more than doubling his tally from their defeat to Australia (20).

  • In Bravo we trust: Afghanistan hails impact of former Windies skipper in current T20 World Cup success In Bravo we trust: Afghanistan hails impact of former Windies skipper in current T20 World Cup success

    Afghanistan’s Head coach Jonathan Trott and seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi praised the assistance of bowling consultant Dwayne Bravo, whose expertise they believe has been integral to their success in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup so far.

    The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACC) appointed Bravo prior to the global showpiece, and their decision has so far proven fruitful, as the former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies all-rounder’s influence has been invaluable to their charge.

    Contesting Group C alongside co-host West Indies, Afghanistan have been rampant so far, as they easily brushed aside Uganda, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, on their way to qualifying for the Super Eight knockout phase.

    Bravo, 40, a legend in the game’s shortest format, featured in the West Indies 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cup titles, and more importantly has played over 550 matches, and this experience that he brings to the Afghanistan setup has certainly been felt.

    “Obviously, Bravo is really well-respected. His work ethic is great, along with the other coaches. His knowledge of the game and the amount of T20 cricket he has played, the conditions and obviously his knowledge of the local grounds and how they are going to play (are great assets),” Trott said, during the post-game briefing after their seven-wicket win over PNG on Thursday.

    "I've obviously played against him and getting to spend a lot of time with him is great and it is great to have him on our side. He works with the bowlers and he works with the batters as well. He was a really good all-rounder, wasn't he? Lots of experience to draw from and we are pleased we've secured his services," the former England star added.

    Farooqi, who has taken a tournament-high 12 wickets at the T20 World Cup, says Bravo has given them valuable insights on how to bowl at critical stages of the match.

    "DJ Bravo, I have been with him from the last four years. I have played with him in the same team. He knows me and I know how big a player he is. He gives us tips on how we bowl in the death, how we bowl in crucial situations. He is a big player. He is a mentor to us," he said.

    "He has given me ideas on how I should bowl in the death in the pressure time. How I should use the slow ball, how I should use the long ball (yorker). That for us is a good thing," Farooqi noted.

    Afghanistan will play West Indies on Monday in their final preliminary round match, which is merely to decide, who will enter the knockout stages with their unbeaten record intact.

    For the Super Eight, Afghanistan are drawn alongside Australia and India, with Bangladesh or Netherlands to be their next opponent.

  • Boult confirms meeting with Papua New Guinea will be his final T20 World Cup match Boult confirms meeting with Papua New Guinea will be his final T20 World Cup match

    New Zealand's Trent Boult has confirmed that he will not play at another T20 World Cup.

    Boult, who has 32 wickets in 17 outings in the tournament, will prepare for the Black Caps' final game of this year's edition against Papua New Guinea on Monday.

    New Zealand exited a World Cup before the last four for the first time since 2014 after losing their opening games to Afghanistan and West Indies. 

    Despite earning their maiden win of the tournament against Uganda, Monday's fixture against Papua New Guinea means little for New Zealand.

    And 34-year-old Boult confirmed that match will be his final appearance at a T20 World Cup.

    "Speaking on behalf of myself, this will be my last T20 World Cup," Boult told the media.

    With him bowing out from the T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will now have to fill a gaping hole in their bowling attack for 2026.

    In the current squad, only three players will be under 30-years-old, with Tim Southee another standout name who looks set to step back in the coming years.

    Both Boult and Southee have played a pivotal role in recent ODI and T20 World Cups, and Boult is hopeful the latest edition of the competition will not be the last time he features alongside his good friend. 

    "I look at the partnership with Tim with very fond memories," he said. "We bowled a lot of overs together. I know the partnership very well, and obviously he's a very good friend on and off the ground.

    "It was nice to wind back the clock a little bit and see a bit of swing bowling at the top. Some great memories, and hopefully a couple more still to come."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.