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Cricket World Cup: Pat Cummins delivers again as Australia spoil India’s party in Ahmedabad


The evening before his Australia side completed the ultimate heist to stun India and win the World Cup title, captain Pat Cummins was playing Call of Duty in the team’s Ahmedabad hotel.

He lasted only 30 minutes before leaving his team-mates to play into the night.

But in the end, he answered the true call of duty.

Cummins is the 30-year-old who became captain by accident, awarded the honour when Tim Paine had to quit after a sex scandal.

So hurried was his appointment that he revised his fielding positions the night before his first Test as captain.

But now, the calm, well-mannered captain with the business degree has made winning very much his business. After this triumph, Cummins stands alongside the greatest Australian leaders of all.

Australia sides have scaled many heights in the past, but Cummins’ six-month run – including the World Test Championship crown, an Ashes retained in England and a sixth World Cup title for his country, won in a final against the hosts and previously unstoppable India – runs anything before it very close indeed.

While Travis Head’s superb century – 137 runs in 120 balls in pursuit of 241 – will take the headlines, it was Cummins’ captaincy that set this party-pooping smash and grab in motion.

First, having won the toss, Cummins surprised most observers by bravely choosing to bowl. It gave India what they wanted but Cummins, too, had his plan in mind.

He then twirled through his options – Mitchell Starc from here and then from there, Glenn Maxwell for an over, Adam Zampa for two – to tie India’s much heralded batting line-up down in a masterful tactical display from a man who had only led his state in four 50-over games before taking his country’s top job.

In total there were 22 bowling switches, Cummins ringing the changes more than any other captain at this World Cup.

After a roaring start, India scored just four boundaries from overs 11 to 50, the fewest they have ever hit in that period in a one-day international. Their batters were in a spin, their rhythm left on the flight from Mumbai, and they were bowled out for 240.

But what makes Cummins the captain even more special is that he does it while also being the foot solider back in the ranks.

A slow walk after collecting his cap, hands placed on hips as he gulps in air, and he is able to switch between bowler and leader.

Back in June, Cummins was there at the end with the bat at Edgbaston when he and Nathan Lyon snatched the first Ashes Test from England’s hands.

During the third Test in Leeds he took seven wickets and showed there is steel behind those piercing blue eyes when his integrity was called into question in a terse news conference in the aftermath of Alex Carey’s controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s.

Five months on, Cummins was again at the centre of it all, there to deal the crucial blow.

Virat Kohli is the man whose name is on a million backs in India – almost every blue shirt emblazoned with his name.

For 63 balls, Kohli carried all his fellow countrymen on his own shoulders as he tried to steer India from danger, only to be removed by Cummins for 54.

As the vast Narendra Modi Stadium fell quiet, Australia’s skipper ran away, arms outstretched in celebration for what is becoming a trademark charge of wicket-taking delight.

He said pre-match on Saturday, with a grin, that there is “nothing more satisfying in sport” than hearing a big crowd go silent.

And on Sunday, Cummins took it upon himself to make sure his side experienced such satisfaction.

What began as a moment’s pause after a wicket became prolonged periods of nervous tension in a crowd that had arrived to party.

This was supposed to be India’s day, their 12-year wait for a global title over, with their prime minister watching from the stands.

Instead, by the time Glenn Maxwell swung away the winning runs, many had already began the journey home – the fireworks at the final moment met with further glum silence by those still in attendance.

But Cummins’ men were not just the parents returning home to put an end to the party – they were gatecrashing it for themselves.

They had, by completing victory with seven overs to spare, embarrassed this previously dominant India team in front of 98,000 friends, with prime minister Modi having to awkwardly hand Cummins the trophy himself as the Aussie skipper grinned.

Rather than his two Ashes wins or the T20 World Cup, Cummins had always regarded Australia’s 2015 World Cup win as his greatest moment in the game – a final against New Zealand won against a crowd similarly partisan in their favour.

He ran the drinks that night but now has his own moment to savour.

“I think that’s the pinnacle of international cricket, winning a one-day World Cup,” he said as his team-mates partied in the dressing room.

“Especially over here in India, in front of a crowd like this.

“You only get a shot at it every four years. The whole cricket world stops with this World Cup so it doesn’t get any better.”

Ever the team man, the polite and modest Cummins was keen to praise others for securing the title.

These days, however, it is Pat that always delivers.



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