The 2023 World Cup final holds special significance for Indian cricket fans seeking redemption after Australia's 2003 victory, an event etched in memory. It's not just a match, it's a chance to settle a two-decade-old score.
I was 8 years old when India lost the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. Frankly, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it.
I had followed every match of the World Cup as India crushed teams like England, Sri Lanka, and then Pakistan in the semi-finals. I had already envisioned Sourav Ganguly lifting the World Cup in Johannesburg on March 23, Sunday, 2003.
However, watching Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist thrash Indian bowlers in the first innings was distressing, but I held on. I believed the Indian team could chase it down.
Sachin Tendulkar was my idol, and I was one of those kids who drank the energy drink Boost only because Sachin Tendulkar endorsed it. But when the ‘Master Blaster’ departed early in the Indian innings, I switched off the television, lacking the courage to watch the rest of the match.
Hours later, when I turned on the TV to catch up, my heart sank seeing the final score: 234 all out. It was over.
It was my first World Cup, and it ended in tragedy. Sourav Ganguly had led the Men in Blue courageously on foreign soil; the Indian team had dominated every opponent it faced, but ultimately fell to Australia.
When Australia won the semi-final against South Africa, and it became clear that India would face Australia in the World Cup final, memories of 2003 came flooding back. For all the '90s kids like me who have followed cricket for the past two decades, the World Cup loss in 2003 remained an unresolved chapter.
It has lingered with us for the last two decades. The scars remain fresh, and revenge is still pending.
Back then, honestly, the Indian team was good, but the Aussies were formidable. Their batting lineup boasted stalwarts like Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Mathew Hayden, while their pace unit featured speedsters Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath.
In contrast, India's batting relied heavily on Sachin, Sehwag, Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid, with Sehwag being the lone aggressive batter.
India’s bowling was also weak against Australia, with only Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, and Ashish Nehra in the pace unit.
However, times have changed. The Indian team has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, now comprising powerful hitters like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, and Shubman Gill.
The pace unit boasts the likes of Mohammed Shami, the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup, and the yorker specialist and one of the best bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah.
Today's Indian team is far superior to Australia in every aspect, making us the favourites to win the cup.
Although numbers might favor Australia in World Cup encounters, they won’t matter in the finals.
Even the Aussies know they won't be the favorites this time against India, as the whole country stands united against 11 foreign players.
For the '90s kids, this final isn't just another match; it's a chance to settle scores. Thus, the India-Australia final is indeed a revenge game for all of us.