Do mighty hosts India fear any team at this World Cup? That’s probably the wrong question to ask given they’ve breezed to Sunday’s final unbeaten and barely challenged along the way. India rightfully shouldn’t fear anyone.

But out of the measly field containing nine other teams – mercifully cricket’s showpiece event will expand to 14 in 2027 – Australia are surely the team that will cause them and their partisan fans the most nerves.

Let’s get this out of the way. India deserve the overwhelming favoritism. They should win the final in front of a rabid 130,000 crowd in Ahmedabad’s grandiosely named Narendra Modi Stadium. A triumph would cement India as the greatest ODI team of this generation.

The World Cup has felt like an exercise in India flexing its muscle on and off the field. If there was any doubt previously, India now unmercifully rule this colonial British game that was once dictated by England and Australia.

Indians are rightfully relishing this major powerful shift, which probably can be traced back 15 years with the advent of the money-spinning Indian Premier League. It feels like their utter domination will be complete with the crowning of the most dominant campaign imaginable amid bedlam in the terraces and beyond.

Before India’s coronation, Australia stand in their way and an upset can’t be discounted. It might not be such a breeze for India in a rematch of the 2003 final when the shoe was on the other foot and all-powerful Australia waltzed to victory to cap an unbeaten tournament.

India are probably better at every aspect – batting and pace/spin bowling. But the gulf is marginable. What might just make them anxious is that Australia have match-winners in all departments.

In what will be his final ODI, David Warner looms as a formidable presence and has been outstanding in this tournament. His opening partner Travis Head can match him blow for blow then there are power hitters Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, who have already smashed major centuries.

Australia’s pace attack was almost unplayable against South Africa in the semi-finals in a devastating new ball burst that was reminiscent of their carnage of India’s top-order in the opener for both teams.

India eventually steadied through another chasing masterclass from Virat Kohli, who ignited his stellar tournament by calmly thwarting Australia’s fired-up attack. But it was the only time India have been put under pressure with the bat as they’ve had rollicking starts otherwise.

The question will be whether Australia can make India seriously feel under pressure. New Zealand almost got there when Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson were clobbering India’s bowlers, but they climbed an uphill battle chasing such a large total. So it proved as India won rather comfortably at the end.

Even though the surroundings will be surreal, making the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground feel rather quaint, Australia won’t be intimidated. They will also brace for conditions almost certainly prepared to be against them amid expected Indian gamesmanship.

But this is a hardened, veteran group who have managed to reach the final after the most exhausting year headlined by an India tour, the World Test Championship Final and the Ashes.

A lot has been made of India cementing their legacy with a title, but a triumph might well be the crowning achievement for a core of players at the heart of Australian cricket for the last decade.

There are larger stakes. A title against all the odds would be Australia’s greatest ever World Cup achievement. Better than their underdog victory in 1987 which ushered Australia’s golden era. And also better than Australia’s unforgettable campaign in 1999, where interest back home was at fever pitch even during the football dominated winter months.

The ongoing World Cup has only attracted lukewarm interest in Australia, but a large television audience is expected to tune in late on Sunday night.

Those willing to stay awake into the wee hours of Monday might just be rewarded by witnessing a monumental achievement by their heroes.

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