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Final: Australia v Sri Lanka
Barbados, 28 April 2007

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WORLD CUP FINAL, BARBADOS: Australia 281-4 beat Sri Lanka 215-8 by 53 runs (D/L method)

By Oliver Brett

Australia celebrate after receiving the World Cup trophy
Australia celebrate after receiving the World Cup trophy

Opener Adam Gilchrist hit a brilliant 149 off 104 balls as Australia won the World Cup for the third time in a row.

But the 53-run win over Sri Lanka in a rain-affected match was tainted by a controversial finish in Barbados.

Set a massive 282 to win off 38 overs, the Sri Lankans found maintaining the required scoring rate beyond them.

Australia thought they had won when play was halted with three overs left, but the game resumed before finishing, farcically, in almost total darkness.

The way the match ended took some of the shine off Gilchrist's innings, which was the highest score in a World Cup final and saw his side to a score of 281-4.

It was also the fastest century in a final as he reached three figures off only 72 balls.

In reply, Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Kumar Sangakkara (54) briefly raised Sri Lankan hopes with a stand of 116, but the holders eventually sealed their fourth World Cup win as their opponents, needing a revised target of 269 off 36 overs, finished on 215-8.

Rain delayed the start of the Kensington Oval showpiece, with the teams having to wait two hours and 20 minutes before a ball was bowled.

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When play finally did begin, all eyes were on Chaminda Vaas, who bowled the first over.

It became quickly apparent that one of the finest exponents of swing could not find a shade of movement, and a high-scoring match looked on the cards.

The fun started in the third over as Vaas paid for bowling too close to Gilchrist's pads. He was flicked for four and driven imperiously for six.

Dilhara Fernando did have a chance to end Gilchrist's innings on 31 but could not take an awkward return catch off his own bowling.

The batsman made him regret that miss with two fours, and a six, heaved over long on, from the same over.

Gilchrist continued to connect with a series of leg-side hits, mostly struck as cleanly as he could have wished.

Even Muttiah Muralitharan suffered, and Gilchrist reached his century with a ferocious drive over mid-off for four off Lasith Malinga.

It was the third fastest in World Cups, and it was also the 11th highest individual score in the 22-year history of the tournament.

Moments later, he was almost caught by wicket-keeper Sangakkara, at full stretch.

Sixes number seven and eight - an aggregate that equalled the record for a World Cup innings - came off the left-arm darts of Jayasuriya.

FASTEST WORLD CUP 100s
Adam Gilchrist
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72 balls A Gilchrist
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Finally, attempting a ninth with a pull off Fernando, he skied a catch to mid-wicket to bring to an end a tremendous innings.

Gilchrist's was the second wicket to fall.

His partner Matthew Hayden had been subdued - and surprisingly out-of-touch - by hitting just 38 in an opening stand of 172 before finally driving a catch to extra cover.

And with both openers out, Ricky Ponting and the rest had an important role to play to first maintain a run rate of seven an over, and then attempt to build it.

Luck was on Australia's side, as any number of edged or mis-directed drives just eluded diving fielders.

They could not emulate the panache and skill of Gilchrist.

In the final dash for runs, Ponting was run out, Shane Watson was bowled to give Malinga his second wicket and nine runs came off the final over, bowled by Fernando.

After a 10-minute turnaround, Nathan Bracken bowled the first ball of the Sri Lankan innings.

Strangely, the new ball he was provided with did swing long enough to attract Upul Tharanga's outside edge.

And when Sangakkara and Jayasuriya first started their partnership, they were extremely cautious.

The last segment of powerplay overs provided an avenue for more aggression, however, and Sri Lanka responded well.

Muttiah Muralitharan
Spinner Muttiah Muralitharan endured a rare wicketless day
Watson was hit by Jayasuriya for three fours in an over, and Sangakkara went one better, with two fours and a six crunched over midwicket in the space of six balls from Glenn McGrath.

Brad Hogg's introduction slowed the tempo again, and the chinaman bowler struck when Ponting accepted an easy chance at midwicket off an attempted Sangakkara pull.

As the required run rate climbed, Ponting produced his final trick - the slow left-armers of Michael Clarke.

It was not a great first over from him, but it produced the wicket of Jayasuriya, who trotted down the wicket and was bowled.

Two overs later, with rain falling steadily, the umpires reluctantly brought the players off the field.

When play resumed after a brief interlude, Sri Lanka's overall target had been adjusted with 12 runs and two overs knocked off the calculation.

It took a long time for anyone inside or outside the ground to realise what was going on, however, as a ridiculous situation developed.

Almost immediately, further bad luck hit Sri Lanka when skipper Mahela Jayawardene got a bad lbw decision.

The light closed in even more, and some cheap wickets came Australia's way.

Gilchrist took a sprawling catch at one point to give McGrath a wicket in his last match.

But the final stages of the match were the opposite of what the organisers would have wished for, with batsmen groping about blindly, and even the fielders and commentators struggling.

It later transpired that the umpires had erred in insisting that the match was played out to the bitter end after Sri Lanka had effectively thrown in the towel after 33 overs.

Australia could not care less though, and when it finally ended they could reflect on yet another dominant display in a World Cup tournament.

Although Sangakkara and Jayasuriya had done their best, it was ultimately as one-sided a victory for Australia as the ones achieved in both 1999 and 2003.


see also
Jonathan Agnew column
29 Apr 07 |  Cricket
Nathan Bracken column
29 Apr 07 |  Australia
Russel Arnold's column
29 Apr 07 |  Sri Lanka
Match referee admits rules error
29 Apr 07 |  Cricket


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