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Two-time World Cup winner Shane Watson has led the praise of Travis Head and Pat Cummins after Australia’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup victory over India in Ahmedabad.

Despite a relatively quick start from India with the bat, and in front of a huge crowd inside the Narendra Modi Stadium, an unflustered Australia held their nerve.

Pat Cummins kept his calm in the heat of battle to rein in his rivals through smart bowling changes and 2/34 himself, though it was his boldness of deploying Glenn Maxwell early in Australia’s bowling innings that proved to swing proceedings, a move backed by Head, who would go on to have a career day.

Taking a superb catch running into the outfield to dismiss the dangerous Rohit Sharma (47 from 31 balls) and wrestle momentum, Head kickstarted Australia’s push to keep the hosts to 241.

Opening the batting in Australia’s reply, Head then survived a tricky early period against an imperious fast bowling attack to finish with 137 (120) to his name, taking Australia from 47/3 to 239/4 with Marnus Labuschagne (58*) inside 43 over, all but taking Australia to victory.

Head watched on as Maxwell hit the winning runs, before being crowned Player of the Match for his exploits.

Speaking on the latest episode of The ICC Review podcast with host Brian Murgatroyd after Australia’s sixth Cricket World Cup title, Watson lauded the opening batter’s continued aggression when so many others would have crept into their shell.

“There’s no question that he’s a high risk, high reward batter. He takes the game on,” Watson noted.

“Once he finds his groove, as we saw after probably about 50 or 60 runs, then he was just in overdrive. And then he was just really in, whenever he wanted to hit the ball to the boundary he did.” Australia’s slow start at the tournament undoubtedly coincided with Head’s absence, having missed time with a fracture in his left hand. Kept in the squad by selectors and coach Andrew McDonald, Head repaid team management.

He stormed back into form with a century on his return against New Zealand during group stage action, before Player of the Month performances in the semi-final against South Africa and in Sunday’s trophy-claiming victory.

Watson was quick to acknowledge how important it was for him to make immediate impact given his importance to the team’s balance.

“With no cricket to be had, to come into a World Cup, getting a hundred against a high-quality New Zealand bowling attack, and then to be able to replicate that in a semi-final against South Africa. The firepower that he possesses. And then the final,” Watson began.

“There’s no question that Travis Head in the way he’s really reformed himself as a player and as a performer for Australia across all formats of the game has been just through that freedom and fearless way that he’s been playing.

“He’s been a revelation for Australia at the top of the order for sure. The way he’s been batting in one day cricket and we had to do it in India in a final, in challenging conditions, one the atmosphere for sure, but these conditions here today certainly were fairly different to what he’s used to batting in Australia, for example, and where he got brought up.

“To be able to do that in these conditions as well as shows something of a very, very high quality.” Watson missed out on the Australian 2003 tournament victory through a back injury, though proved to be a key member of the side’s victorious 2007 and 2015 campaigns.

Even looking back with rose-tinted glasses of yesteryear, Watson admitted he’d never seen an Australian team win like the one on Sunday.

“With my experience, watching the 1999 World Cup, then watching from afar 2003 and the others in 2007 and 2015, to be able to win here in India, playing India in the final and knowing these conditions, they were going to be as extreme as India could possibly make them,” Watson said.

“For Australia to be able to win this World Cup here in India with the support, and things going against Pat Cummins, he’s just done it, made the transition so easily.” Cummins came under question after two early defeats to begin the tournament, even in spite of claiming a World Test Championship Final victory, and successfully retaining the Ashes in England.

Watson, who stepped up to take up the Australian captaincy on an interim basis during his career, saluted Cummins’ cool.

“The decisions he made today, his tactics were absolutely spot on,” Watson said.

“His ability to be able to galvanise his team and whatever they did to turn things around after that second game, the coach, the support staff and Pat Cummins in the leadership group of the Australian team, whatever they did, they really turned it around and turned it on.

“To be able to then just work through it, and you could see there definitely was a shift after the second game just from his own performance, you’d see there’s a little bit of extra intensity in him after that.

“He’s not an experienced captain, even coming into this World Cup, he’d only captained Australia in one day in a handful of occasions.” (ICC.com)

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