Several players took a few extra seconds to soak in their surroundings as they went down the 80-odd steps from the changing rooms hidden high up behind the sightscreen and onto the spacious oval of the narendra modi Stadium. Perhaps it was the inescapable passing thought about a world cup final and how everything they've done up to this point - picking up a bat or a ball, that first boundary, that first appeal, the sweat, the tears, and the sweet joy of hitting that imaginary six to win the world cup - will all be telescoped into the next few hours. Perhaps all they saw was the fresh paraphernalia that had sprung up at the megastructure, preparing itself for a dazzling curtain call.
Neither side is unfamiliar with this level. Certainly not Australia, which is participating for the eighth time. They have collected World Cups in Kolkata, London, Johannesburg, Barbados, and Melbourne, many ways some #wanderlusts collect souvenir fridge magnets on their travels. Playing in a world cup final is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many teams. It's a way of life in Australia. Even yet, their trip to this point had been fraught with uncertainty.
They nearly lost after scoring 388, nearly lost after being 91/7 in a pursuit of 291 and nearly lost after reducing their opponent to 24/4 during the first hour of the semi-final. But here they are, almost champions. Who can seriously bet against them completing a three-year run of global titles in each format of the game in a year that has already seen them retain the Ashes in england and win the global Test Championship?
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