Dashing opener's imperious 137 leads Australia to stunning six-wicket win over India and a sixth men's ODI crown
Pat Cummins' team pulled off the biggest World Cup final turn-up in three decades as Travis Head belted one of the great tons in the tournament's history to lead his side to a remarkable six-wicket victory and ruin India's cricketing coronation.
Cummins' surprise call to insert the home side on what proved a slow Ahmedabad pitch paid off as he led a strangling bowling performance to keep his formidable opponents to just 240, with the tournament favourites bowled out for the first time in a previously undefeated campaign.
Head, who took a match-turning catch to dismiss Rohit Sharma, was dismissed for 137 (120) just two runs shy of the target, leaving it to Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs from his first ball and secure Australia's sixth ODI men's crown.
Marnus Labuschagne (58no off 110) joined Head after Australia's Powerplay aggression backfired when they slumped to 3-47 before the pair demoralised the 92,543 fans packed into the Narendra Modi Stadium.
They put on 192 for the fourth wicket – the second highest partnership in a World Cup decider – as Head clubbed India's continued attempts to bowl short at him and played the home side's spinners expertly on the wearing surface.
The duo exchanged a long embrace after Head was dismissed to acknowledge their momentous stand, before the Aussies stormed the field after Maxwell’s final blow.
"Not in a million years," said Head when asked about being player of the match in both the semi-final against South Africa and the final. "What an amazing day – just thrilled to be a part of it.
"I was a little bit nervous but Marn played exceptionally, he was awesome to bat with. He was so good to bat with and just an amazing partnership."
The result silenced the vast sea of blue Indian jerseys who had come expecting their team to handle the Aussies as easily as they had their previous 10 opponents in this tournament.
It marked the most unlikely men's ODI World Cup final result since 1996 when Sri Lanka beat Australia in Lahore.
India, who won all their group-stage games and their semi final against New Zealand by comfortable margins, were expected to be too strong for an Australian side that had a more wobbly run to get to the competition's final match.
Head, who was in danger of missing this tournament after breaking his hand in September, was nearly run out attempting his century-completing single but otherwise did not give a chance.
The left-hander celebrated in typically laconic fashion, making a gesture with his hand to the delight of teammates applauding him from the dugout.
Tellingly, spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav finished wicketless, while Jasprit Bumrah (2-43) was unable to lift his side despite a tremendous new-ball spell.
Along with Mitchell Starc (3-55), Cummins was immense as he conceded just 34 from his 10 overs, while he pulled all the right levers as captain, starting with his decision to put his opponents into bat despite that being precisely what they wanted.
And after Rohit (47 off 31) torched the new ball to have India 2-80 at the end of the Powerplay, Cummins delivered one of the game's decisive moments when he dismissed Virat Kohli for 54.
Kohli, the tournament's leading run scorer and the most beloved athlete in the world's most populous nation, stared at the pitch in dismay after chopping on to a delighted Cummins.
Kohli's distaste for the surface suggested the run chase might be no cakewalk against the home team's five-strong bowling attack that had been the most potent at this World Cup.
After Australia's rocky start, it looked like he might be right as Australia's top-order's plan to brazenly attack the new ball exposed them.
Two edges towards Kohli at slip from David Warner – the second was well pouched after he failed to move for the initial chance off Bumrah's first ball of the innings – did not deter the Aussies' naked aggression.
Australia belted 40 from the first four overs before the brilliant Bumrah dismissed Mitch Marsh and Steve Smith in the space of 10 balls, the latter to an lbw decision not reviewed by Australia's middle-order anchor as replays shows he would have earned a reprieve with ball hitting pad outside the line of off stump.
But Labuschagne, on 34, then had a slice of good fortune with the review system when Bumrah tailed a suddenly reverse-swinging ball tailed into his front pad. Given not out on field, the decision showed umpire's call on stump impact.
Labuschagne, remarkably left out of an original 18-man squad for this tournament, finished its last game as one of its heroes having played a calm hand from one end as Head attacked from the other.
Earlier, just as they have all tournament, the Aussies found a way to tip the game back in their favour in unlikely fashion.
This time it was Head, one of the less renowned fielders in the side, who took one of the best catches of his career running back from point after Rohit miscued a Maxwell off-break.
Cummins got his replacement Shreyas Iyer caught behind by a skidder to force Kohli and KL Rahul, the only two Indian batters to have a tournament strike-rate under 100, into a rebuild.
Australia's skipper at one stage used seven different bowlers in eight overs in a bid to unsettle the duo as the pair went 98 balls without a boundary. Only the Netherlands have had a longer boundary-less sequence in this World Cup.
Kohli's serenity extended further, allowing a pitch invader wearing a pro-Palestine shirt to embrace him as security guards took an inexplicably long time to apprehend him.
The 35-year-old cruised past fifty for the ninth time in 11 innings to cap a tournament in which he was the leading run scorer.
After his 67-run stand with Kohli, Rahul went on to top score with 66 from 107 balls but India gradually fell away.
Their long tail was exposed as their last five wickets fell for only 37, with Starc getting the key late breakthrough of Rahul as he troubled the lower-order with reverse swing.
Wicketkeeper Josh Inglis finished with five catches, the most taken in a World Cup final.
2023 ODI World Cup Finals
First semi-final: India beat New Zealand by 70 runs
Second semi-final: Australia beat South Africa by three wickets