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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 10:51 GMT
Cricket World Cup: Aussies again
By Martin Gough

A World Cup supposed to celebrate all things African ended by celebrating all things Australian as Ricky Ponting's men clinched their second successive triumph.

Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting with the trophy
Australia went through the tournament undefeated
Unlike Australia's victory over Pakistan at Lord's in 1999, the final was spectacular, with Ponting's thrilling century the highlight as India were beaten by 125 runs.

But much of the rest of the tournament was lacking in excitement, as political machinations off the field over-shadowed a stack of lacklustre matches.

England left it until two days before their scheduled match against Zimbabwe in Harare to decide, for safety and moral reasons, not to make the trip.

At the end of a row that had blazed for more than two months, Nasser Hussain's side forfeited points and made it near impossible to qualify for the second round.

Zimbabwe stars Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands to protest against President Mugabe's regime and were forced into retirement as a result.

New Zealand decided Nairobi was unsafe and forfeited their match against Kenya, making their task of reaching the semi-finals similarly difficult.

MOST EXCITING MATCHES
Contentious tournament rules saw former champions West Indies eliminated at the first round stage, after their match against woeful Bangladesh was rained off.

And the South Africa team's failure to grasp the rain rules saw a side expected to shine on their home soil kicking their heels for the second half of the tournament.

The World Cup had promised so much when Brian Lara's century toppled the hosts in the opening game under the shadow of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

Along the way there were a handful of thrilling matches.

Andy Bichel's 7-20 and a massive lower-order revival led Australia to a two-wicket win over England with two balls to spare.

Ramnaresh Sarwan came back from hospital after being struck on the head to hit an unbeaten 47 to take West Indies within six runs of downing Sri Lanka, and reaching the second round.

And Sachin Tendulkar smashed an explosive 98 at a cauldron-like Centurion Park as India overcame Pakistan in the first meeting between the arch-rivals in almost three years.

Collins Obuya
Obuya starred for surprise semi-finalists Kenya
But the biggest thrills came for the lesser nations, who enjoyed a rare spell in the limelight.

Canada's John Davison hit the fastest century in World Cup history to leave West Indies worrying.

And Namibia's Rudi van Vuuren took 5-43 to ruffle England in their group match (although the same bowler conceded a record 28 runs in a single over against Australia).

But the biggest story of the tournament was the success of Kenya not only in becoming the first non-Test side to reach the second round but going on to the semi-finals.

The finest hour for Steve Tikolo's side was the upset 53-run victory over Sri Lanka in Nairobi, keyed by Collins Obuya's five wickets.

Bangladesh and Zimbabwe were also put to the sword and a side relying on the in-form Obuya and some lightning fielding also had their moments against Australia and India.

Australia had expected their homecoming parade, three former finalists slunk home early, but the heroes' welcome was in Nairobi.




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