India, the tournament’s only unbeaten team, have seldom made a mistake, while Australia have never looked back after recovering from back-to-back losses at the start of the campaign.
India have outperformed Australia as a team and are the frontrunners to win the prestigious trophy at home for the first time in 12 years.
Australia, on the other hand, are not used to finishing second when a global trophy is at stake, and their enviable record of five titles in seven final appearances speaks for itself.
The final promises to be a riveting contest and here are the match-ups that could potentially decide the winner.
Rohit Sharma (AFP Photo)
Rohit Sharma vs new ball of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood
Throughout the tournament, India captain Rohit Sharma has walked the talk by going on the bowlers in the opening powerplay. His high-risk approach has relieved the strain on the other batters, allowing Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill to build their innings.
The Indian captain’s daring approach throughout the long and tiring competition was summed up by Rohit dancing down the track and blasting Trent Boult over cover for a six in the third over of the semifinal.
The big issue is whether he can do it against Hazlewood and Starc on Sunday’s first powerplay. India will be heavily reliant on Rohit, who got caught in front by Hazlewood in the league game against Australia in Chennai.
Hazlewood will continue to pose issues with his seam movement, while Starc will seek for a banana inswinger that has previously tormented Rohit. It’s perhaps the most important game of his career, and trust Rohit to rise to the occasion.
India’s Mohammed Shami (AFP Photo)
Mohammed Shami vs the left-handed openers
Shami is having a tournament to remember, with 23 wickets in six games. No batter has figured out how to deal with the movement created by a perfect seam position.
Bowling from around the wicket, the skilful Indian bowler has particularly unnerved left-arm batsmen, making even champion cricketer Ben Stokes look inept.
Shami eliminated the dangerous opening pair of Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra in back-to-back overs in the first semifinal’s powerplay with a ball that straightened enough from behind the wicket angle to take the outside edge.
Shami’s effectiveness against left-handed bowlers makes a strong case for him to begin the bowling alongside Jasprit Bumrah against David Warner and Travis Head.
Rohit has chosen the 33-year-old Amroha-born bowler as the first change option, but with the threat posed by Warner and Head, the India captain will be tempted to bowl the new ball to Shami.
Virat Kohli after his century against South Africa. (PTI Photo)
Virat Kohli vs Adam Zampa
Kohli has generally battled against left-arm spinners in recent years, but leg-spinner Zampa has also tormented him and has taken the Indian superstar’s special wicket eight times.
The matchup between the tournament’s top run-getter and the most successful spinner will be the one to watch.
Kohli, who has 711 runs at a strike rate of 90.69 and an average of 101.57, will be asked to take quick singles and twos while also working the pitch in the middle overs.
Zampa prefers to attack the stumps, knowing that Kohli will be expecting the occasional flipper and googly. It hasn’t been his usual style of play, but would Kohli try to rush down the track and surprise Zampa?
Kuldeep Yadav (PTI Photo)
Kuldeep Yadav vs Glenn Maxwell
It is a credit to Kuldeep’s extraordinary abilities that, with the exception of Daryl Mitchell, no batter has gone for the offence against the left-arm wrist spinner.
Mitchell went for the straight boundary against Kuldeep in Dharamsala, but Maxwell has a lot more shots in his arsenal, some of which he can only pull off.
If Maxwell can hang on on Sunday, it will be the most difficult test for Kuldeep.
Maxwell can target the cow corner with spin, and he can also disrupt Kuldeep’s routine by going for stunning reverse shots when the ball lands outside the off-stump. If this occurs, Kuldeep will have to think outside the box in order to fool the Australian.
Australia’s David Warner (AFP Photo)
David Warner vs Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah, who has 18 wickets in 10 games with an amazing economy rate of 3.98, failed to remove Warner in 14 ODIs.
Warner has scored 117 runs off the 130 balls he has faced from Bumrah.
Bumrah has added a powerful outswinger to his already enviable arsenal after returning from injury, which might hamper an in-form Warner, who is Australia’s leading run-getter in the tournament with 528 runs.
Bumrah will throw a couple angles, but Warner will be waiting for the incoming ball.
Mohammad Shami: A testament to skill, determination, and unwavering spirit
(With inputs from PTI)