The ICC has unveiled a shock change in format for the World Cup final following Australia’s upset victory over India, ruling the decider will now be ‘best of three’.
Closer analysis of the tournament’s playing conditions at the request of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has revealed a previously unknown clause determining that, in the event of India losing the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium, two more matches would be scheduled for Mumbai and Kolkata to ensure their conquerors were truly worthy of the prize.
It means Australia’s impressive six-wicket win in Ahmedabad will now only secure them a 1-0 lead in the series, with their World Cup trophy and player medals taken off them by ICC officials overnight as they celebrated what they thought was their sixth tournament win.
“Rules are rules, and all teams must abide by what is set in the official playing conditions,” ICC chairman Greg Barclay said in a statement on Monday morning.
“Had umpires and match officials properly adhered to the rules as set out in the official tournament document, last night’s presentation ceremony would not have gone ahead.
“Under the rules, a tournament host losing the final – in this case, India – would have the right to try again in two further follow-up finals, with the trophy to be awarded to the victors of the best-of-three series.
“This rule will remain in place for the 2027 World Cup in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia; however, due to there being three teams sharing hosting rights all with a chance of participating in the tournament, the laws state the right of a three-match finals series will be awarded to the host of the previous World Cup, which in this case would be India as well.”
The two matches will replace a five-match T20I series between Australia and India which was set to begin in four days’ time, with that series set to be rescheduled, according to a Cricket Australia spokesperson, to ‘whenever the BCCI tell us it’ll be’.
Ground staff in Mumbai and Kolkata have reportedly already begun preparing pitches for the two follow-up finals, with reports from the Wankhede Stadium that the wicket has been doused in kerosene and set on fire in accordance with the requirement for the second match to be played on, in the exact wording from the official ICC document, a ‘raging Bunsen’.
It is believed Australian captain Pat Cummins and Game 1 player of the match Travis Head are in doubt for Game 2 of the series on Wednesday evening due to crippling hangovers, while David Warner is battling a bruised thumb sustained from an errantly popped champagne cork.
Steve Smith is also facing a disciplinary hearing after reportedly telling ICC officials who came to retrieve the World Cup trophy from the team’s victory celebrations that they would need to ‘take it from my cold dead hands’, which could see him hit with three demerit points and suspended for the remainder of the finals series.