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Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 17:02 GMT

Aussies have no equals

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Australia emphatically underlined their status as the best cricket team in the world by their ruthless and clinical destruction of India.

Only for a very short while, as thunder clouds rumbled by, and the Duckworth-Lewis chart was consulted, was there even a remote possibility of India's batsmen overcoming the huge total that faced them.

Unbeaten in the tournament - Australia were deserving winners

Once the rain stopped, it was merely a question of time before Australia's bowlers secured victory.

No doubt, Sourav Ganguly will be widely criticised for his decision to put Australia in to bat after winning the toss.

Indeed, some people are suggesting that it was done to protect his batsmen from Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, but I understand his motives.

Firstly, when the toss was made, the ground was covered with thick, dark cloud and, since it had also rained heavily at dawn, the atmosphere was muggy and conducive to swing and seam bowling.


Secondly, Ganguly knew that the forecast was for rain in the afternoon.

The team batting second is generally favoured by the Duckworth-Lewis system, and that was another reason for putting Australia in.

David Shepherd signals a wide

In fact, the ball moved about prodigiously, but India's bowlers were woefully inaccurate. One can only assume that big-match nerves consumed them.

The very first over of the match, bowled by Zaheer Khan, set the trend.

It was a 10-ball over, consisting of wides and no balls, and it conceded 15 runs.

The Aussies, led by Adam Gilchrist, were away and there was nothing India could do to stop them.

Although Harbhajan did a wonderful job rather earlier than he would have expected, it was when Sehwag and Tendulkar were turning their arms over that the match-winning partnership between Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn was forged.

In some of the most clinical hitting I have seen, Ponting dismembered the Indian attack.

Sachin Tendulkar

He hit only one boundary in his first 50, but smashed eight sixes in his last 90 runs which came from only 47 balls - he was unstoppable to the extent that slower balls were hit out of the ground one-handed.

Martyn reached 88 almost unnoticed, and when India had wearily completed their 50 overs, the pair had added 234 in only 30 overs as Australia reached their highest-ever score in one-day cricket.

India's reply was derailed by only the fifth ball of their reply when Tendulkar, having pulled McGrath for four, repeated the shot and was caught and bowled.

With him went India's hopes, but Ganguly, who made 24 and Sehwag refused to give up.


Sehwag was fourth out for an excellent 82 but, realistically, this target was always going to be beyond them.

India's batsmen tried their best, but their bowlers simply did not turn up for the big day.



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