Australia beat Sri Lanka to win third straight title

Sunday, April 29, 2007

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Australia won an unprecedented third straight title and fourth overall when they beat Sri Lanka by 53 runs under Duckworth & Lewis method in the rain-curtailed final of the World Cup 2007 here at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

They earlier won the cricket’s mega event in 1999 and 2003, having also won the World Cup in 1987. It was also their fourth successive appearance in the final, having been beaten by Sri Lanka in 1996.

Sri Lanka played their second World Cup final following their win 11 years ago.

This was the ninth World Cup final since its inception in 1975, and the first staged in the Caribbean.

The match was reduced to 38 overs a side because of rain and after winning the toss, captain Ricky Ponting decided to bat in wet conditions. Openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist put on a huge 172 for the first wicket in just 22.5 overs before Hayden fell after giving a fine support to his partner with a patient 38 off 55 balls. He was caught by skipper Mahela Jayawardene off Lasith Malinga.

On the other end, vice-captain Gilchrist continued the onslaught and completed his fifty from 43 balls and his 15th ODI hundred off 72 balls. He added another 52 with his captain for the second wicket.

However, Gilchrist’s hurricane innings came to an end when he pulled a short-length ball from Dilhara Fernando only to get a top edge and Chamara Silva took a good catch at short mid- wicket. His blazing 149 came from 104 balls with the help of 13 fours and eight sixes.

This was the highest individual score in a World Cup final. The previous record was 140 not out by Ponting against India at Johannesburg in the 2003 World Cup final.

Gilchrist also reached the 9000-run mark in One-day International career. He is the second Australian after Ricky Ponting and the 11th batsman overall to reach this milestone.

Later, Ponting was run out at the score of 261. He made 37 off 42 balls. Five runs later, Shane Watson was clean bowled by Malinga.

However, Australia finished 281 for four at the end of the 38th over. Andrew Symonds was not out at 23 from 21 balls and Michael Clarke at eight runs.

Malinga claimed two wickets for 49 and Dlihara Fernando took one wicket at a high cost of 74 runs.

Chasing a rather difficult target, Sri Lanka lost their opener Upul Tharanga in only the third over but veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya and wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sanagakkara played sensibly and gradually accelerated the score. Both completed their fifties and added 116 runs for the second wicket before Sangakkara fell to Brad Hogg for 54. This was his 40th fifty in 200 ODIs and, in all, he faced 54 balls and hit six fours and one six.

Later, Jayasuriya was bowled by Clarke and with this Sri Lanka lost the hope of winning the title.Jayasuriya, in his final appearance in the World Cup he was playing since 1996, scored 63 off 67 balls with nine fours. This was his 64th fifty in 390 matches, already a record of the most ODI appearances. He also became only the second player after India’s Sachin Tendulkar to make 12000 runs in One-day International cricket.

Then another short rain interruption revised the target to 269 in 36 overs. But wickets were falling at regular intervals. They were 206 for seven in 33 overs when bad lights stopped play and Australia thinking the match had been called off began celebrating the victory. But umpire Aleem Dar asked the players to resume the game in the dark to complete the remaining three overs.

However, Sri Lanka finished on 215 for eight to lose the final by 53 runs under D/L rule.Ponting tried seven bowlers, all were among the wickets except Shaun Tait. Michael Clarke was the most successful bowler with two for 33.

Adam Gilchrist was declared the man-of-the-match and Glenn McGrath was adjudged the man-of-the-tournament in his final One-day International as the ninth edition of the World Cup ended with colourful celebrations at the ground.

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