James Anderson snared India captain Rohit Sharma after Joe Root was left stranded on 122 not out as England were all out for 353 on the second morning of the fourth Test.

Anderson kissed the outside edge of Rohit’s bat as India went to lunch on 34 for one in Ranchi after Ollie Robinson registered his maiden Test fifty in a 102-run stand with Root, who added 16 runs to his overnight score.

Robinson’s dismissal for 58 was the start of England losing their final three wickets for six runs in 17 balls, with Jadeja taking three dismissals to finish with figures of four for 67, as Root ran out of partners.

Robinson, who got away with an lbw decision off Jadeja on Friday evening because India had used all their reviews, took the attack to India’s bowlers on a pitch with very few of the demons seen on the first morning, although the odd delivery still kept low.

India took the new ball after two deliveries as England resumed on 302 for seven, but the hosts could not capitalise as Robinson took three fours in an eventful over off Akash Deep, who beat the lower-order batter’s outside edge twice.

Robinson brought up a first Test half-century by slog sweeping Jadeja for a ninth four, to go with one six, and stretched his stand with Root into three figures – England’s first century stand for the eighth wicket since August 2017.

But an attempted reverse sweep off Jadeja brushed Robinson’s glove on the way through to Dhruv Jurel and England’s innings unravelled quickly.

Shoaib Bashir clothed a skier to backward point while Jadeja had his and India’s third wicket of the morning when Anderson made a hash of a sweep and was lbw.

Ben Stokes warmed up alongside the bowlers before India had to negotiate a 45-minute period before lunch but it was Anderson and Robinson, making his first competitive appearance since last July, entrusted with the new ball.

Anderson made the breakthrough in his second over, getting one to hold its line and kiss Rohit’s outside edge.

Robinson, whose bowling was famously described as “124kph (77mph) nude nuts” in the Ashes by former Australia opener Matthew Hayden, did not touch 80mph but drew the edge of Yashasvi Jaiswal only for the ball to bounce short of Zak Crawley and disappear for four.

Robinson beat the outside edge on a couple of occasions but was then driven by Jaiswal, who has made double hundreds in his last two Tests, for his fifth four in the over before lunch.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s decision to leave the India team mid-Test and tend to an urgent family matter was the “absolutely right thing to do”, according to captain Rohit Sharma.

Ashwin’s withdrawal from the third Test against England in Rajkot after the second day’s play was down to a family medical emergency and left India effectively down to 10 players.

While India could use a substitute fielder the playing conditions prohibited a replacement, but despite the absence of a spinner with 500 Test wickets, the hosts moved into the ascendancy on day three.

Ashwin returned on Sunday and took the wicket of Tom Hartley in England’s second innings as India sealed a 434-run win – their biggest margin of victory in terms of runs – to go 2-1 up in the series.

“When you lose your most experienced bowler, especially in the middle of a Test match it is not easy,” Rohit said. “But everything was aside, family comes first.

“When we heard the news, there was no second thought in our mind. (We felt) he should do what he feels is right and obviously he wanted to be with the family which is an absolutely right thing to do.

“Good on him to make a way and come here and be part of the team on this day.

“It shows the character and shows the kind of person he is – wanting to put everything ahead for the team. We were happy to have him back.”

England’s defeat was their heaviest since 1934 and they were on course for one of their lowest totals after capitulating to 50 for seven before the last three wickets added 72.

While England subsided to their seventh lowest score against India, Rohit’s side sealed a memorable victory, having handed debuts to middle-order batter Sarfaraz Khan and wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel.

Both rookies made an impression as did 22-year-old opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who made his second successive double hundred in his seventh Test, and Kuldeep Yadav, who took four wickets in his 10th appearance in this format.

“It’s a big victory,” Rohit added.

“Obviously it’s a very good feeling to win a game like that and especially with such a young team as well.

“A lot of credit to these young boys who have come in and shown a lot of character. It looks like they belong here, and they actually want to stay here as well. It is quite satisfying when you win a Test match like that.”

Ben Stokes has had an air of indifference at playing in his 100th Test but the England captain was “pretty emotional” at receiving his cap in a behind-closed-doors presentation.

England players typically hold a team huddle on the outfield before play to commemorate landmark appearances but Stokes this week described joining the 100 Test club as “just a number”.

In keeping with Stokes’ philosophy about personal milestones, his cap presentation took place in England’s dressing room before the opening day of the third Test against India in Rajkot got under way.

England assistant Paul Collingwood was tight-lipped about what he said to Stokes before handing over the cap but thought his former Durham team-mate was touched by the sentiments expressed.

“It was a real honour to be asked to present the cap in the first place,” Collingwood said.

“I’ve known Ben since he’s been a young whipper-snapper at Durham. It was great just to say a few nice words.

“It was just to really applaud what he’s achieved in his career so far, it’s certainly not coming to an end – hopefully he’s got another 100 Test caps in him.

“From the team’s point of view, it was to thank him for what he’s done and just the way he pushes the boundaries all the time and fills every player and member of coaching staff with confidence.

“It’s a great moment for him, I’m sure he’ll not be overly bothered about 100 Test caps but you could see once I was speaking he was pretty emotional to receive that cap.”

With the series level at 1-1 and resuming after a 10-day break, England made a terrific start as the recalled Mark Wood found the edges of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill to leave India on 33 for three.

Some early morning moisture aided England’s bowlers but as sun beat down on the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the pitch flattened out and Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja capitalised.

Rohit made 131 after being given a reprieve on 27 when Joe Root shelled a tough chance, which would have left India on 47 for four, while Jadeja contributed a princely 110 not out on his return from a hamstring injury at his home ground as India finished an engrossing day on 326 for five.

Wood eventually got reward for his short-ball plan by snaring Rohit to finish with three for 69 while he ran out Sarfaraz Khan with a fantastic direct hit from mid-on.

“Woody has good skill with the new ball, he can nip that around and swing it,” Collingwood said.

“But on flat pitches, you need something, be it a leg-spinner who can turn it both ways, or extreme pace.

“They are usually things that break those partnerships and give you an edge. You want a point of difference on these types of pitches.

“I thought we pushed hard all day and we threw everything at them. We all realise that however many runs India get, we’re going to go out there pretty positively with the bat.

“If we have to chase runs on this pitch, it’s a very fast outfield and we’re good at chasing.”

While Root’s drop of Rohit was a sliding doors moment, England might also have snared both centurions had they reviewed lbw decisions given not out on the field, with Rohit on 87 and Jadeja on 93.

“It can be frustrating at times, but you have to crack on and try to create more chances,” Collingwood added.

Jadeja was shuffled up one place to number five to spare debutant Sarfaraz Khan a baptism of fire following India’s top-order wobble.

By the time Sarfaraz made his entrance, India were on a healthier 237 for four after a mammoth 204-run union between their two old stagers.

Sarfaraz poured salt into England’s wounds by taking down the tourists’ spinners and contributing 62 off 66 balls before being left high and dry by Jadeja, who turned down the single that would have brought up his 100.

Sarfaraz was well short of getting back in his crease and Jadeja reached his century from the next ball although his customary sword-swishing celebration was not as vigorous as usual.

“We had a little bit of miscommunication and that happens, it is no big deal,” Sarfaraz said, absolving his team-mate of any blame.

Mark Wood shone on his recall but hundreds from India captain Rohit Sharma and hometown hero Ravindra Jadeja blunted England’s charge on the opening day of the third Test.

Left out in Visakhapatnam, where the hosts levelled the series at 1-1, Wood rewarded England’s gamble to select two seamers for the first time this tour by finding the edges of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill as India stumbled to 33 for three.

But Joe Root’s drop to reprieve Rohit on 27 was a sliding doors moment as the opener added another 104 before falling to Wood, who finished with three for 69 and ran out the lively Sarfaraz Khan on debut.

Jadeja made a princely 110 not out on his return from a hamstring injury but England might have snared both centurions had they reviewed shortly before they reached three figures on a chastening day which finished with India on 326 for five.

Despite Ben Stokes calling incorrectly at the toss on his 100th Test, the early morning moisture aided England’s bowlers and they capitalised by leaving India three down inside the first nine overs.

As temperatures rose in Gujarat and the pitch gradually flattened out, Rohit, Jadeja then Sarfaraz, who contributed 62 off just 66 balls, helped India wrestle control as they added 151 in the last session.

England’s quicks shared new-ball duties and were punished for overpitching but Wood adjusted and gained some extra bounce and a hint of movement as he angled across Jaiswal, a double centurion in Vizag who made 10 as a tentative poke caught the edge and was gobbled up by Root at first slip.

Gill looked ill-at-ease and departed for a nine-ball duck in Wood’s next over after playing inside the line and nicking off, having been beaten through the gate by the previous delivery.

When Tom Hartley found grip and turn from an innocuous length in his first over, Rajat Patidar miscued to cover on five.

Jadeja was shuffled up one place to spare Sarfaraz a baptism of fire but the debutant might have walked in with India on 47 for four had a diving Root held on when Rohit edged an attempted flick off Hartley.

Root’s drop seemed inconsequential when Rohit was given lbw off James Anderson three balls later but an inside edge saw the decision overturned. Having been sconed on the grill by a spiteful Wood lifter and left needing treatment after inside edging on to his thigh, Rohit was struggling but hanging in there.

As the surface became more docile under the beating hot sun, he and Jadeja made hay either side of lunch, with Rohit surviving a tight lbw call on 49 to move to his first Test 50 in nine innings.

He cast off the shackles by depositing both Hartley and Root over long-on as England toiled without reward in a wicketless middle session.

A sinking feeling may have pervaded for the tourists after they failed to review a muted lbw appeal when Rohit missed a sweep on 87. While the ball might have brushed Rohit’s glove, it definitely thudded into his forearm and would have gone on to crash into leg stump.

Third umpire Rod Tucker was spared a tricky decision and Rohit brought up his century after tea before looking to turn the screw, perishing when a full-blooded heave took a top-edge and was caught by Stokes. The Durham pair celebrated wildly after ending a 204-run union but it was brief respite.

Jadeja was strong all around the wicket and especially off his hips, getting a short-arm pull off Wood to go the distance, before offering his first chance on 93. Hartley seemed to beat the inside edge with one that skidded on and the ball would have gone on to clatter middle stump.

Sarfaraz, who was drafted in for his international bow with a lofty first-class average of 69.85, poured salt into the wound as India moved through the gears. The 26-year-old was not overawed by the occasion, handling England’s spinners with ease and driving superbly.

He moved briskly to a 48-ball 50 but he was left high and dry when his partner was on 99. Setting off for a single which would have taken Jadeja to three figures, Sarfaraz was sent back and left well short of his crease following Wood’s direct hit.

There were muted celebrations when Jadeja reached his hundred just before stumps but his contribution helped India gain control.

England were given a sharp reality check on the opening day of their Test series in India, spun out for 246 in Hyderabad before a bruising introduction for debutant Tom Hartley.

India have lost just three times in their last 46 games on home soil and were quick to offer a reminder of the task that faces England’s Bazball brigade over the next seven weeks.

England captain Ben Stokes, who was on crutches after knee surgery in November, struck a vital 70 to give his side a fighting chance in their first innings but on a predictably helpful surface eight of his team-mates fell to spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.

England, who were dismissed for less than 200 six times in eight attempts on their last visit in 2021, had loaded their own attack with three slow bowlers of their own but they were unable to replicate the same threat as India made 119 for one in reply.

Left-armer Hartley, a selectorial hunch fancied to flourish in the sub-continent, had never opened the bowling in his first-class career but accepted Stokes’ challenge to do so. It proved a gamble too far.

The 24-year-old’s first delivery in the Test arena was brutally smashed for six by Yashasvi Jaiswal, reaching to drag it high into the leg-side in what looked a pre-meditated assault. Four balls later, Jaiswal cleared the ropes again.

Stokes backed his man, keeping him on for an extended spell and keeping the field up, and the runs continued to flow. He struggled to hold both line and length, dragging a couple of long hops into the middle of the pitch and drifting down the leg side as Jaiswal continued to feast.

In amongst the carnage he showed glimmers of promise, and one promising appeal, but his nine-over spell cost a damaging 63 – including 44 in boundaries. It was impossible not to ponder the fate of Hartley’s Lancashire predecessor, Simon Kerrigan, who shipped 53 runs in eight overs on debut in the 2013 Ashes and never played for his country again.

The current regime are less likely to cut players adrift but it was a painful welcome. England’s only wicket came from the more established finger spin of Jack Leach, who had Rohit Sharma caught by Stokes trying and failing an elaborate strike down the ground.

Jaiswal, seen as an up and coming star, finished 76 not out from 70 balls having cashed in on his takedown of Hartley.

England’s day started positively, Stokes batting first after winning a handy toss and watching as Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett shared an opening stand of 55.

Despite some evident swing, the pair backed themselves and picked up an early flurry of fours before Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj made way for spin after eight unsuccessful overs.

The change was profound, with England losing three wickets for five runs in the space of 21 deliveries. Ashwin removed both set batters, Duckett lbw propping forward for 35 and Crawley driving low to mid-off for 20.

In between, the returning Ollie Pope lasted 11 skittish balls and edged Jadeja to slip for just one. Pope has not played since dislocating his shoulder in the second Test of last summer’s Ashes and the cobwebs accrued over six months were there for all to see.

Jonny Bairstow led a restorative partnership of 61 with his fellow Yorkshireman Joe Root, securing a promising lunch score of 108 for three, but further trouble arrived in the middle session. Bairstow (37) had his off stump taken by a cracker from Patel, moments before Root (29) top-edged a sweep to fine leg.

However, Stokes shepherded things impressively at the back end of the innings, which seemed to be disappearing swiftly when Ben Foakes’ nick behind made it 155 for seven. Having played his way in smartly with a secure defence, Stokes began to make his presence felt as he ran out of partners.

The reverse sweeps came out of his bat sweetly, he got value when he opted to drive and after tea he reached his half-century with back-to-back sixes off Jadeja.

Before he was finished he dealt Ashwin a similar blow, but he was last man out in the 65th over when Bumrah got one to jag away off the pitch and part his stumps.

As he walked off England’s score felt close to competitive but Indian aggression and the failed experiment with Hartley made it look slimmer and slimmer. Worse still, England used all three reviews unsuccessfully in just 14 overs – two in an attempt to win Hartley a first scalp.

India captain Rohit Sharma has expressed sympathy for England’s Shoaib Bashir after visa complications delayed his arrival in the country.

Bashir, a British Muslim with Pakistani heritage, has experienced difficulty having his application approved and was forced to fly back to London from Abu Dhabi to resolve the issue, ruling him out of Thursday’s first Test.

It is not the first time players with links to Pakistan have experienced hold-ups in India, with Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood and Australia opener Usman Khawaja among that number. The Pakistan Cricket Board wrote to the International Cricket Council late last year due to delays over visas for their World Cup squad.

England skipper Ben Stokes said on Tuesday he was “devastated” for the uncapped 20-year-old and his opposite number offered solidarity.

“I feel for him honestly,” said Sharma.

“Unfortunately I don’t sit in the visa office to give you more details on that but hopefully he can make it quickly, enjoy our country and plays some cricket as well.

“It’s not easy for anyone, it could be one of our guys wanting to come to England and being denied.”

Tom Hartley accepts England have taken a “bit of a punt” in selecting him for a daunting trip to India but the slow left-armer believes he has the tools to thrive.

England’s focus was not on Hartley’s 19 wickets at a modest 44.84 apiece in last year’s LV= Insurance County Championship when they named him in their squad for the upcoming five-match Test series.

Instead, they are banking on Hartley harnessing India’s spinning surfaces in a manner comparable to Ravindra Jadeja and especially Axar Patel, who was England’s nemesis on their last Test tour in 2021.

Hartley’s only previous excursion to India was with Lancashire four years ago although an England Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi a couple of months ago has given him some confidence for the weeks ahead.

“With the conditions being completely different to English conditions, they’ve really analysed what has done well in India and what will do well,” the 24-year-old told the PA news agency.

“It’s nice to see people recognise that I might be the bowler to go out in India and do well. When people have confidence in you like that, it’s fantastic.

“I just feel all that confidence has been passed on to me and I can’t wait to go out there. My stats might not be the best in championship cricket but I bowl very similar to Axar and Jadeja.

“They’re taking a bit of a punt but I feel like I’ve proved myself in the training camps that I’ve been on and I deserve to get a go.”

Hartley suspects he will have a supplementary role if he is given the nod for a series which begins in Hyderabad on January 25, with only Jack Leach among England’s four main spinners capped more than once.

But Hartley, whose international career has comprised of just two ODI appearances against Ireland last year, has given plenty of consideration on how he intends to bowl to the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“Although I haven’t played much cricket out there, I’m going with a feeling of what I need to bowl,” he said. “I see a lot of similarities between my white-ball bowling here and red-ball bowling out there.

“I feel like the pace, the revs you want to put on it and the shape of the ball will be very similar to white-ball areas – you just want to bowl that little bit fuller.

“As much as Indian’s batters are good players of spin, the conditions should be in my favour. You’ve just got to try not to over-complicate things and keep things simple and keep the stumps in play.

“India’s spinners are great but can we perform as well as them? There will be a lot of fight in us. I won’t be playing as a frontline spinner, so there won’t be tons of pressure on me.”

Hartley, who could also extract extra bounce from a 6ft 4in frame, has been taking on board advice from Graeme Swann, revealing the former England spinner’s straightforward approach is a breath of fresh air.

As for whether he has a similar outgoing demeanour as a spinner who took 255 wickets in 60 Tests and is now a consultant bowling coach, Hartley prefers to keep his cool but is not frightened to speak up.

“Once I’m in a battle or someone’s p*****g me off a bit, I’m not afraid to say what I want to say,” Hartley added, ahead of linking up with England on Thursday for a 11-day training camp in Abu Dhabi.

“That really has to be in the moment sort of feel but I’ve done a bit of both and found that just staying as relaxed as possible and having as little emotion as possible works for me.”

A remarkable 23 wickets fell on the first day of the second Test in Cape Town, with South Africa bowled out for just 55 and India succumbing to a shocking collapse of their own.

More wickets have fallen in a single day just four times in the history of Test cricket, with ball dominating bat throughout three breathless sessions that ushered the game towards a rapid conclusion at Newlands.

At stumps South Africa were 62 for three in the second innings, only 36 behind after India had lost their last six wickets for no runs in the space of 11 deliveries. From 153 for four they were rounded up in successive overs by the inspired pairing of Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada without adding to their total.

Dean Elgar, South Africa’s retiring stand-in captain, suffered the ignominy of ending his international batting career with two dismissals on the same day but at least shared that pain with team-mates Tony de Zorzi and Tristan Stubbs.

Elgar had won the toss and opted to bat in the morning but saw his decision blow up spectacularly as India skittled the hosts for their lowest Test score in 92 years.

Mohammed Siraj did most of the damage with figures of six for 15, with two apiece for Jasprit Bumrah and Mukesh Kumar, the latter without conceding a run, as the innings subsided in less than 24 overs.

India took the lead in just 10 overs after lunch, Rohit Sharma taking the attack to the home seamers with a rapid 39. The tourists were primed to hammer home a big advantage at 105 for two with Shubman Gill (36) and Virat Kohli (46) at the crease, but there was another twist in the tale.

Things took a huge handbrake turn in the 33rd over when Ngidi dismissed KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Bumrah in a triple-wicket maiden.

Unbelievably, three more fell in the next five deliveries at the other end, Rabada taking care of Kohli and Prasidh Krishna either side of Siraj’s run out.

The third innings of the day got under way in the evening session, Kumar picking up two more and Bumrah adding a third as Aiden Markram’s 36 not out offered some belated resistance from the Proteas.

Travis Head’s outstanding century carried Australia to World Cup glory for the sixth time as they downed all-conquering India to silence over 110,000 home fans in Ahmedabad.

The hosts brushed aside all-comers – including Australia in their opening group game – as they marched to the final with a 100 per cent record, but came up short in a six-wicket loss in front of an enormous but increasingly morose crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

They posted a modest 240 all out after being sent in on a sluggish surface – just one run fewer than New Zealand and England tied with in the Lord’s showpiece four years ago – before watching Head take the game away from them with a masterful 137 from 120 balls.

Head played with aggression, imagination and self-belief on a worn pitch that left almost every other batter fumbling for the fluency he showed.

The 29-year-old was not even in the country when the campaign began, joining up late due to a fractured left hand that sidelined him for Australia’s first four matches, but the selectors’ faith paid off lavishly after he followed up his player-of-the-match effort in the semi-final against South Africa with something even better.

Watching from the other end as the score slipped to 47 for three, he slugged four sixes and 15 fours as he dominated a 192-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out).

Head deserved to carry his bat but fell with two runs needed, caught in the deep looking to end it in style, allowing new man Glenn Maxwell to hit the winning runs.

That confirmed another chapter in Australia’s proud story as an ODI side, joining the teams of 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015 in lifting the trophy and rounding off a marquee year that has seen them win the World Test Championship, also against India, and retain the Ashes.

Victorious captain Pat Cummins called correctly at the toss by sending the hosts in and took a vital haul of two for 34, while Mitchell Starc claimed three for 55 as he set the tone for an excellent bowling effort.

The initial skirmishes were suitably thrilling, India hammering 80 off the first 10 overs while also losing both openers.

Shubman Gill was first to go, mis-hitting a pull off Starc, but India captain Rohit Sharma showed his intent by charging Josh Hazlewood in just the second over of the day.

He unloaded a handful of fierce blows, with three sixes in his rapid 47, but perished going for one big hit too many off Maxwell’s first over. He offered a tough catch arcing over cover, but Head kept an eagle eye on it to start his memorable day.

Cummins chipped away another when Shreyas Iyer was lbw before a painstaking stand of 67 between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. Their time together was tough going, with a solitary boundary in 109 deliveries as Australia exerted admirable control of foreign conditions.

Both batters made gritty half-centuries – tournament top-scorer Kohli doing so for the ninth time in 11 knocks at the World Cup – but neither converted their platform. Kohli dragged Cummins back into his stumps searching for width on 54, and Rahul nicked Starc behind for 66 as the ball began to reverse.

That was the first of five wickets for 37 in the closing stages, India all out courtesy of a run out from the last ball of the innings.

David Warner nicked the first ball of the chase between first and second slip for four, but India picked up to put themselves right in the hunt.

Warner nicked Mohammed Shami behind chasing a ball he had no business playing, Mitch Marsh departed with similar carelessness against Jasprit Bumrah and linchpin Steve Smith accepted an lbw decision that would have been overturned by DRS.

India, and their supporters, were pumped up but found Head unfazed. With a solid start behind him he took the bull by the horns, slog-sweeping Kuldeep Yadav for six in the 16th over and making steady inroads into the slender target.

He had an answer for everything, making light of Shami’s return to the attack by smashing his loosener back down the ground for a one-bounce four and peeling off muscular pulls when the seamers went short.

With Labuschagne content to play the supporting role, Head tucked in. He took the target below 100 by whipping Shami behind square and under 50 with a mighty six off Ravindra Jadeja.

His century, the third by an Australian in a World Cup final after Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, came off a rare misjudgement as he almost ran himself out dashing a single.

By then the job was all but done, Head denied the tournament-winning moment when he picked out Gill on the ropes, but rightly mobbed by his team-mates as they basked in the moment.

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.

Australia captain Pat Cummins is hoping to silence over 100,000 India fans as his side take on the all-conquering hosts in a tantalising World Cup final.

India have beaten all comers on home soil over the past seven weeks, cheered on by passionate local support in every city they have visited.

The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the biggest cricket ground on the planet, will be teeming with blue shirts on Sunday and they will all be barracking for the same result.

When Pakistan played India at the same venue earlier in the competition, their team director Mickey Arthur pointed out that the lack of away fans meant “it didn’t seem like an ICC event, it seemed like a BCCI event” but Cummins insists Australia must not be daunted by the numbers game.

Instead, he wants them to savour the opportunity of ruining the partisan atmosphere.

“I think you’ve got to embrace it. The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but in sport there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent and that’s the aim for us tomorrow,” he said.

“Every part of a final, even in the lead-up, there’s going to be noise and more people and interest and you just can’t get overwhelmed. You’ve got to be up for it, you’ve got to love it and just know whatever happens it’s fine. You just want to finish the day with no regrets.

“We play over here in India a lot so the noise is not something new. I think on this scale it’s probably bigger than we would have experienced before but it’s not something totally foreign to what we’ve had before. Everyone deals with it slightly differently, you’ll see Davey [Warner] probably dancing and winning the crowd over and other guys just staying in their own bubble, but it should be good.”

While India’s host status and irresistible run of results – 10 straight wins including a straightforward six-wicket success over Australia at the start of the group stage on October 8 – makes them favourites, their opponents boast the better pedigree.

Australia are five-time winners of the biggest prize in the one-day game, thrashing India by 134 runs when they met in the 2003 final in Johannesburg, and Cummins is one of several survivors from the triumphant 2015 team.

“We were all kids not too long ago, watching some of those great teams win the 1999, 2003, 2007 World Cups and that’s the opportunity ahead of us tomorrow, which is really exciting,” he said.

“To be captain would be an absolute privilege to lift the trophy with these great bunch of blokes. It’d be awesome and in terms of the pinnacle, I think it is right up there. It’s got the longest history of a world event where all the teams compete and you only get a shot at it every four years.

“So even if you have a long career, you might only play in two of these events – 2015 is still a career highlight for me, so I think tomorrow if we win, that might pip it.”

Australia have no injury concerns in their 15-man squad and could go in unchanged following their tight semi-final win over South Africa. All-rounder Marcus Stoinis could come into consideration as an extra bowling option, with Marnus Labuschagne the only specialist batter looking over his shoulder.

India captain Rohit Sharma felt his side could never relax as they closed out a 70-run win over New Zealand to reach the World Cup final following Virat Kohli’s record-breaking 50th ODI century in Mumbai.

Sachin Tendulkar was in his home city to witness first-hand Kohli set a new benchmark in ODIs with a typically assured 117 off 113 balls which laid the foundations for India’s mammoth 397 for four.

New Zealand then battled hard in the chase, but hopes of a third successive World Cup final appearance were dashed despite Daryl Mitchell’s fine 134 as they were all out for 327 as Mohammed Shami took a career-best seven for 57.

Rohit, though, admitted he had never taken victory as assured as the 1983 and 2011 champions kept on course for victory on home soil.

“I have played a lot of cricket here, any score on this ground, you can’t relax. Got to get the job done quickly and stay at it,” Rohit said in his post-match presentation interview.

“We knew there would be pressure on us. We were very calm, even though we were a bit sloppy on the field.

“These things are bound to happen, but glad we could get the job done.

“The form all the guys are in, top five or six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it count.”

Rohit added: “Being the semi-final, I won’t say there was no pressure, whenever you play there’s pressure, but a semi-final adds a bit extra.

“We wanted to not think too much about it, just do what we’ve been doing like in the first nine games. Things came off for us nicely in the second half.”

After moving to three figures off 106 balls, Kohli leapt and punched the air, briefly sunk to his knees before rising and soaking up the acclaim from a frenzied crowd which included Tendulkar and David Beckham.

Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, he “couldn’t be happier that an Indian broke my record” as Kohli moved into a class of his own in his 291st ODI – 172 fewer than his former team-mate.

Reflecting on his achievement, Kohli said: “It is the stuff of dreams.

“It is very difficult for me to explain this, but if I could paint a perfect picture, I would want this to be the picture.

“My life partner, the person I love the most, she’s sitting there (in the stands). My hero (Tendulkar) he’s sitting there. And I was able to get the 50th in front of all of them and all these fans in such a historic venue. It was amazing.”

India gained a measure of revenge for being dumped out at the same stage of the 2019 tournament by the Black Caps.

Shami said: “It feels amazing. In the last two World Cups, we lost (in the semi-finals), so who knows when or if we will get a chance again.

“We wanted to do everything for this, one chance we didn’t want to let go.”

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was proud of his side’s efforts.

“Firstly, congrats to India, they played outstandingly well, probably their best game today,” he said. “400 was naturally going to be tough, but credit to the guys, proud effort to stay in the fight.

“It is disappointing to go out, but I am super proud of the effort that has gone in for the last seven weeks.

“The effort was there, but India are top class, have world-class batters who didn’t give us a sniff really.

“You come in and get 400, it’s a tick in the box. They deserve to be where they are, played outstandingly well.

“It wasn’t to be today, but it was nice to be out there to give ourselves a chance.

“It was a fantastic crowd, unbelievable atmosphere, slightly one-sided in the support, but special to be part of the tournament.”

Glenn Maxwell rewrote the World Cup record books as he single-handedly batted Australia to a remarkable win over Afghanistan.

Maxwell defied “horrific” back spasms to hit an unbeaten 201 and power his side from 91 for seven to 293 and a three-wicket win.

It was Australia’s first one-day international double century and here the PA news agency looks at the records set by Maxwell and his eighth-wicket partner Pat Cummins.

Double delight

The highest ODI score by an Australia batter stood at 185 not out, by Shane Watson against Bangladesh in 2011, until Maxwell’s astonishing effort in Mumbai.

It is only the third double century at a World Cup, with West Indies star Chris Gayle setting a record of 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015 but then watching New Zealand’s Martin Guptill top it with 237 not out against his side later in the same tournament.

He is only the ninth man to make an ODI double hundred, with 11 such scores in total, including three for India’s Rohit Sharma. Maxwell made Australia only the fifth nation represented on that list – India with seven from Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, while Fakhar Zaman hit 210 not out for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in 2018.

In 128 balls, Maxwell’s is also the fastest World Cup double – Gayle took 138 balls to reach the landmark and Guptill 152. Kishan narrowly held on to the fastest ODI double, in 126 balls against Bangladesh last year.

The inning was completed fittingly with the winning six, Maxwell’s 10th to go with 21 fours – only Guptill, with 24 fours and 11 sixes in his 237, has scored more runs in boundaries in a World Cup innings.

Perfect partner

“Just ridiculous!” Cummins told Sky Sports with a smile, adding: “It’s got to be the greatest ODI innings that’s ever happened, it’s one of those days where you just go, ‘When that happened, I was here in the stadium’.”

The Australia captain was far more than a mere spectator, though, defying Afghanistan for 68 balls in a two-hour stay at the crease.

He contributed 12 runs to a lop-sided partnership of 202, which destroyed the ODI record for the eighth wicket – an unbroken 138 between South Africa’s Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall against India in 2006 – and the Australian best of 119 between Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne against the Proteas in 1994.

It was also the first 200 stand for any wicket from the seventh downwards – the previous record being Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid’s 177 for England’s seventh wicket against New Zealand in 2015.

Mitchell Marsh’s 24 was the second-highest score as Maxwell racked up 68.6 per cent of Australia’s runs in the innings – only West Indies great Sir Viv Richards has ever scored a greater share of his team’s runs in a completed ODI innings, 189no in a total of 272 for nine against England in 1984 (69.5 per cent).

Afghanistan contributed valiantly to a thrilling match and, while it will be relegated to a footnote after Maxwell’s heroics, opener Ibrahim Zadran carried his bat for 129no to record their first World Cup century.

England produced their best bowling performance of the World Cup, restricting hosts India to 229 for nine in Lucknow.

Jos Buttler’s side headed into the match with nothing to lose, rock bottom in the standings after four defeats from five and with their semi-finals chances up in smoke, and finally put in a performance worthy of their reputation.

David Willey took three crucial wickets, including star man Virat Kohli for a nine-ball duck to silence a partisan 50,000 crowd, while Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes took two apiece.

India, who boast a 100 per cent record after five games, relied on captain Rohit Sharma’s 87 and will need to bowl well under lights to retain their unblemished streak.

After Buttler won the toss the day began with an intriguing skirmish between Willey and Sharma. The Englishman started the match with a maiden over, only for Sharma to blast two sixes and a four from his next visit.

Before the pair had the chance for a third round, Woakes landed a blow of his own that floored Shubman Gill. Attacking the stumps and finding a big slice of seam movement, he snaked the ball between bat and pad to get England on the board.

The crowd’s momentary disappointment was eased by the knowledge that Kohli was next up, with the stadium announcer hailing the arrival of ‘the King’ to deafening roars.

Yet his response was anything but regal, unable to get off strike as Willey ploughed away on an awkward length and waited for a mistake. It came sooner than he might have expected, with Kohli’s patience failing him.

Attempting to break the shackles with a smash down the ground, he got a poor connection and popped a gentle catch to a delighted Ben Stokes. Willey’s howl of celebration pierced the deathly quiet from the stands, which were filled with thousands of replica ‘Virat’ shirts, while the man himself was forced to vacate the stage.

England’s control in the powerplay was outstanding, with India failing to score off 47 of their 60 balls as they crawled to 35 for two. Woakes was backed to keep the pressure on and did just that, hurrying Shreyas Iyer with a short ball that sailed to mid-off via a top edge.

Rohit proved more durable, surviving a run out attempt from Stokes and overturning an lbw on 33 thanks to DRS. He exuded calm as he shepherded KL Rahul in a stand of 91, assuming almost full responsibility for building a total.

Rahul (39) clubbed the returning Willey straight to mid-on and Sharma’s spirited knock ended with a slog-sweep off Rashid. Liam Livingstone held on well in the deep, despite jarring his knee in the process.

India managed 49 for four in the last 10 overs, Suryakumar Yadav cut off in his prime on 49 as Willey landed the last of his three big scalps.

India could welcome back Shubman Gill as they bid to continue their World Cup stranglehold over Pakistan in front of more than 100,000 fans and an audience of up to one billion viewers worldwide.

Fraught relations between the neighbouring countries mean their only showdowns in the last decade have been at multi-team events, with India winning seven out of seven contests at the 50-over World Cup.

They are favourites to extend that record at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, which will be a sea of blue as thousands of Pakistan fans have been unable to secure Indian visas.

Gill, the leading run-scorer in ODIs this year, may return for the tournament’s marquee fixture, having sat out India’s wins over Australia and Afghanistan after being laid low by a bout of dengue fever.

He batted in the nets on Thursday and India captain Rohit Sharma, a centurion against Afghanistan on Wednesday, said of his fellow opener: “99 per cent he is available. We’ll see.”

If Gill, who possesses an incredible average of 66.1 and 102.84 strike-rate from 35 ODIs, is selected then Ishan Kishan will almost certainly make way as the hosts look to make it three wins from three.

Rohit, though, refused to divulge whether India will restore Ravichandran Ashwin to the line-up and go with a three-prong spin attack also including left-armers Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.

“I don’t know, honestly,” he said. “We are ready for whatever combination we want to play. If the requirement is there for us to play three spinners, we will play three spinners.”

Rohit also rejected the notion home advantage could count against India, adding: “You feel nice about playing in front of your home crowd. They get behind you no matter what the situation of the game is.

“My overall experience playing, not just in India, even outside India, we get massive support. I look at this as a good advantage, big advantage. But you’ve got to play good cricket to win the game.”

Pakistan captain Babar Azam needed no reminding of the one-sided nature of the rivalry, with India winning by 89 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in their last fixture in Manchester in 2019.

But Babar insisted Pakistan can take comfort from their 2017 Champions Trophy final win over their adversaries as well as a stunning 10-wicket triumph at the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai.

“I don’t focus on the past, I try to focus on the future,” Babar said. “Such records are made to be broken and I try to break them.

“We were not able to execute in the past, but we changed it in 2021 and 2017. We won against India in the World Cup. We hadn’t done that before, but we did it.

“We believe that we can do it and we will go with full confidence.”

Babar is the top-ranked ODI batter in the world but has had a modest start to the tournament with innings of five and 10 in Pakistan’s wins over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

“My World Cup till right now has not been as it should have been,” he added. “But hopefully you will see some difference in the next matches.”

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