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Ricky Ponting

140 not out against India in the first innings
2003 World Cup final
Australia (359 for 2) beat India (234 all out) by 125 runs

Australia rout India to win third World Cup
Anand Vasu - 23 March 2003

Australia missed Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie only in spirit as they routed India by 125 runs to win the World Cup for a historic third time. The mischievous smile rarely left Ricky Ponting's boyish face as he led from the front, playing the innings of his life for an unbeaten 140 that powered Australia to 359/2 from 50 overs. In the face of great pressure chasing 360, India were given fleeting glimpses of hope by Virender Sehwag (82) and the rain, but succumbed to 234 all out in 39.2 overs.

Without losing a single game on their way, Australia stamped their authority on world cricket. The mantle rested easily on Steve Waugh's shoulders, and Ponting can now tell the world that he has lived up to every expectation Australian fans would have had.

For the Indians a much cherished dream came crashing down to earth at the Wanderers. With no player having experience of being in a final as big as this, their bowlers appeared nervous and jerky after their captain gave them first use of the conditions. Zaheer Khan, charged up, oozed nervous energy as he charged in and delivered a 15-run over to get the game under way, accompanied by a few kind words to Adam Gilchrist.

The best time to have a cheeky word with aggressive Australian batsmen is when they are walking back to the pavilion, not when they've just played and missed. Showing the stomach for a big fight, Gilchrist proceeded to tear the Indian bowling apart.

He telegraphed his intentions early on, crashing the first ball of the third over, delivered by Zaheer Khan, to the long-off fence. From then on, there was no stopping him. Srinath, in particular, was treated severely, walloped for five fours and a six before he was taken off the attack. At the other end, Hayden was circumspect, getting his eye in and playing second fiddle.

After Gilchrist had piled misery on the experienced Srinath and raw Zaheer Khan alike, Ganguly was forced to turn to his only spinner in just the 10th over.

It paid dividends soon enough. Having slowed a touch after reaching his half-century off just 40 balls, Gilchrist attempted to heave Harbhajan over midwicket. With two fielders in the deep, there was little margin for error. The extra bounce from Harbhajan ensured that Gilchrist was beaten; the top edge swirling high towards midwicket where Sehwag held on to a well- judged catch.

India had their first breakthrough, with Gilchrist gone for 57 (48 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) in the 14th over. While he would have been disappointed at falling against the run of play, he could take heart from the fact that he put Australia right on top with his contribution in a better-than-run-a-ball 105-run partnership for the first wicket.

As is so often the case in one-dayers, one wicket paved the way for another. The fall of Gilchrist slowed things down considerably and not a single boundary was struck in the 5.5 over spell it took for the second Aussie wicket to fall.

Extracting big turn from the damp spots on the wicket, Harbhajan got a ball to turn square from outside the leg and Hayden (37, 54 balls, 5 fours) could only manage a faint edge to wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid. Australia were 125/2, one ball shy of the 20-over mark.

India savoured their twin strikes, and it was a good thing they did, for they was little else to celebrate on the day.

What Gilchrist and Hayden did, Ponting and Damien Martyn did better. They batted India out of the game with a belligerent 234- run partnership in 30.1 overs that powered Australia to a mammoth 359/2, the highest-ever score in a World Cup final. The bowling was well short of even being tidy - they conceded as many as 37 extras - and paid the price.

You can't help but feel for Srinath, who might well have played his last one-dayer for India. After all, who wants to end a career with the figures of 10-0-87-0 in a World Cup final?

For the Indian seamers, who have done a sterling job all series, the final proved the moment when the law of averages caught up with them, along with a determined batting line-up.

Using the launchpad afforded them by Gilchrist's early burst, Ponting and Martyn took time to play themselves in. Once they did, there was no holding back. Australia's captain showed the world exactly what he was capable of perpetrating, hitting eight sixes and four fours in a 121-ball 140. He unveiled an array of pull shots, sending his sixes sailing into the stands in the arc from midwicket to square leg.

Martyn, while not playing the breathtaking shots that Ponting essayed, scored at a fast clip while every now and then unveiling the kind of delicate artistry that would have classicists purring with delight. A back-foot cover drive that sailed over the ropes showed a sense of timing that few in the world of cricket can match. With 88 off just 84 balls in a World Cup final, Martyn can be well pleased with his effort.

At the end of the Ponting-Martyn assault, Australia had 359/2 in 50 overs.

Drawing deep into the resources of a well of optimism and hope, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag walked out to attempt to make this World Cup final the greatest ever by pulling off a sensational win.

One can only imagine the pressure piled onto the shoulders of Tendulkar as he stared down the wicket to Glenn McGrath first up. After pulling him unconvincingly to the midwicket fence off the fourth ball, Tendulkar tried to repeat the shot off the very next ball. The extra bounce beat him and the resultant top edge bobbed straight up in the air for McGrath to catch in his follow- through.

The Australians had the big wicket they wanted; Tendulkar was back in the pavilion and a mere four runs were on the board. For most Indian fans, hope took a beating as the man who scored 673 runs in this World Cup was back in the pavilion.

Ganguly (24) did his best to keep up the run rate, but fell to the pace of Brett Lee in the 10th over. Just three balls later, Mohammad Kaif was back in the hut for a duck and India were reeling at 59/3.

From there on India did their best to keep up the pace, but were flagging when the skies opened and rain poured down at the Wanderers, threatening yet another twist in the tale with India on 103/3 in 17 overs. Even this rate was possible only as Ponting turned to his slow bowlers, in order to get through the overs. Brad Hogg and Darren Lehmann were introduced early and Sehwag went after both. Three consecutive boundaries off Lehmann in the 14th over got the Indian fans in the ground on their feet.

Hogg too got a taste of the action, going for a four over cover and a six over long on off the third and fourth balls of the 15th over.

When play resumed with the threat of rain gone, Ponting went back to his strike bowlers and they delivered the goods.

While Sehwag kept the hopes of Indian fans up with good clean hits, the asking rate kept climbing. The sheer volume of runs required meant that scoring at a run a ball did nothing to arrest the steady climb of the required run rate. Dravid, meanwhile, played foil to Sehwag, nudging singles and attempting to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the strike rotating. Ones and twos, however, were never going to be enough and soon Sehwag began to feel the pressure.

Using his range of strokes, Sehwag thumped a couple of pulls, a slog-sweep and an extra-cover drive for three fours and six. Reaching 82 off just 81 balls, he probably had the Duckworth/Lewis target in mind as he attempted a suicidal run in the 24th over. Driving Bichel firmly to mid off, Sehwag set off for a single and was well short of his crease when Darren Lehmann's throw nailed the stumps at the non-striker's end. Sehwag's 10 boundaries and three sixes brought much joy to Indian fans.

Dravid (47) played a dogged hand and Yuvraj Singh made a brisk 24, but neither could do anything to stop Australia's march.

Wickets fell at regular intervals, shared almost equally between all the bowlers and India's resistance was cut short on 234 in 39.2 overs. While Ganguly might rue his decision to bowl first, you can't help but feel that Australia were simply too good on the day. And yes, on every other day they walked out to play cricket in their successful 2003 World Cup campaign.

Top © CricInfo

World Cup final: Australian greats scale new heights
By Derek Pringle (Filed: 24/03/2003)

Australia (359-2) beat India (234) by 125 runs

Australia underlined their superiority in all forms of the game by roasting India in the World Cup final amid thunder, lightning and frenzied batting by their captain Ricky Ponting, who scored 140 of his side's 359, the highest total in a World Cup final and the Australians' highest one-day score.

Inevitably, with such a huge task confronting them, India were never in contention and Australia cantered home by 125 runs to win the trophy for a record fourth time.

It was never really a contest, especially after Sachin Tendulkar fell for four, caught and bowled by Glenn McGrath in the opening over of his side's reply.

On form, India had been the second-best team in this World Cup, losing just one match before yesterday. As that was also to Australia, and by a huge margin, another shellacking was hardly surprising.

Ponting pointed to an outstanding team performance, one that had kept Australia unbeaten here. "When the World Cup comes around you give it your best when it counts," he said. "The hundred was the 13th of my career but it was the best moment of my cricketing life. We've won 17 consecutive one-day matches and back-to-back World Cups but the stats don't mean as much to us as the standards we set on the field."

After beginning his innings with a captain's caution (he struck one four in his first fifty) following Adam Gilchrist's 'shock and awe' opening of 57 off 48 balls, Ponting's monolithic knock contained all elements of batting with sixes seemingly struck at will during the closing stages. He favoured the leg side, with almost 85 per cent of his runs coming there, a trait helped by India's bowlers having a collective off-day.

Rod Marsh, director of England's Academy, described Ponting as a "once in a generation batsman" when he first saw him at the Australian Academy 10 years ago. Those gifts have taken time to bloom fully but yesterday he produced a bouquet to savour with an innings unlikely to be surpassed in a hurry, at least not in games as important as World Cup finals.

Ponting had arrived at the crease with his side in the healthy position of 105 for one in the 14th over with his opposite number, Sourav Ganguly, ringing the changes in a desperate attempt to staunch the runs. Ganguly had opted to field, presumably due to the effects overnight thunderstorms might have had on the pitch. The decision backfired horribly, though he later claimed he did not regret making it. It was almost certainly borne of a faint heart: based not on what advantage his bowlers might derive from first use of the surface, but on what Australia's aggressive pace bowlers would get from it. Ganguly's opening bowlers choked and both Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan dropped too short to batsmen weaned on cross-bat shots.

With a huge Indian presence in the 32,000-strong crowd, far better for India's captain to unleash Tendulkar early and get them shrieking with every run than endure the eerie silence that greeted Gilchrist's savaging of India's wild opening salvo. Srinath's 10 overs cost 87 runs, by some distance the worst bowling figures in a final.

Until the storm threatened to erase Australia's industry (a new game is staged if play is abandoned, unless 25 overs of the second innings are bowled), Indian fans had been virtually silent. Only Ganguly's hotch-potch of spinners (five were used) bowled with discipline, though by then Australia's momentum was unstoppable.

Rarely at his best starting against spin, Ponting contented himself with getting his eye in with singles, a tactic Damien Martyn, playing with a broken right index finger, also employed to great effect. Like Mark Waugh before him, Martyn unobtrusively scores runs at will, possessing a broad palette of strokes.

The pair added 234 for the third wicket, a record for a final that needed little Lord Sachin to be at his most god-like. Taking first strike, Tendulkar pulled McGrath's fourth ball to the midwicket boundary. Unfortunately a repeat of the shot next ball ended in a skied catch.

India's retort came from Virender Sehwag. Playing freely, Sehwag mixed bravery with bravura as Brett Lee crunched several short balls into his body and gloves. Unflinching, he played his shots and until he was run out by Darren Lehmann taking a sharp single to mid-off, he had matched the best of the Australians with 10 fours and three sixes.

Once he had gone, the fourth man out in the 24th over, and with rain unlikely to intervene again, the end was inevitable. When it occurred, Australia mobbed their captain, a writhing gold and green organism that once more proved far greater than the sum of its parts.

Sanath Jayasuriya will remain as captain of Sri Lanka after his resignation was rejected by the country's cricket board yesterday. Top

The new invincibles
Dileep Premachandran

India's fanatical supporters can take some comfort from the words of Virgil tonight. "Maybe one day we shall be glad to remember these things," he wrote in the years before Christ, and even the most despondent fan should see what happened at the Wanderers today in that sort of late-afternoon gentle light.

India were beaten, by the best team in the history of the one-day game, but they were by no means disgraced. Defeat against a side that can make light of the absences of Shane Warne - the greatest spinner of the modern era - and Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath's heir apparent as the world's greatest pace bowler, seems not really defeat at all.

In two-dozen games dating back to April 2000, Australia haven't lost once when they've made 200 batting first. So to expect India's batsmen, formidable as they have been this tournament, to chase down 360 was a bit like the lonely child wishing for the company of the Man on the Moon.

Despite the enormity of the odds stacked against them, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid gave it their best shot, in trying circumstances where they had to keep one eye on the asking rate and another on the ubiquitous Duckworth-Lewis chart.

Tossed away

His most virulent critics will be at Ganguly's throat for bowling first on winning the toss. But make no mistake, it was the right decision - the way the ball darted around off the seam proved as much. There's nothing a captain can do however when his frontline bowlers - who have done him proud throughout the tournament - choose the biggest stage to go missing in action.

Zaheer Khan's radar switched off, Javagal Srinath bowled half- track, hit-me balls all afternoon, and Ashish Nehra was never consistent enough to cause anything more than the occasional quickened heartbeat. Ganguly did what he could, shuffling the pack and trying all his jokers, but none of them had any answer to a batting display the likes of which we may never see again.

Cometh the hour ...

This was supposed to be the day when Sachin Tendulkar joined the likes of Clive Lloyd,
Vivian Richards and Aravinda de Silva as a World Cup final hero. Instead, he produced four runs and a couple of indifferent overs of legspin - enough to bring those who question his big-match credentials crawling out of the woodwork.

Remember, though, that this is a man who finished the tournament with 673 runs in 11 innings. Without him and an audacious assault against Pakistan, there might have been no final. In his darkest hour, Indian fans would do well to doff their caps his way.

Western warrior

Ricky Ponting may have hijacked the big strokes in the final stages but who can forget the innings that Damien Martyn played? Batting with a broken finger, he outpaced Ponting to 50, no mean feat unless your name's Adam Gilchrist, before moving over to the fringes. For all the big-hitting from Ponting and Sehwag, the shot of the day was Martyn's magnificently timed inside-out drive over cover.

And finally ...

What a way to consign the Steve Waugh one-day era to the pages of history. There were a few questions about Ponting's captaincy credentials in the lead-up to the competition, and he answered them with an innings that ranks alongside Richards's 138 in 1979 as the greatest played on the big stage. The 234-run partnership with Martyn obliterated World Cup records and made the match a no-contest by the halfway stage.

While Martyn got off to a rollicking start, Ponting pushed and nudged his way to a sedate 74-ball 50. His next 90 runs took him just 47 balls, and featured some breathtaking strokes in the arc between long-on and square leg. Two of those were one-handed efforts, but the timing was so excellent that the ball disappeared anyway.

A couple of times, batting from the Golf Course End, the white ball went so high and handsome that you had to peer twice to make sure it wasn't Tiger Woods in action. Ponting's 13th one-day hundred was certainly unlucky for millions of Indian fans who expected so much but were ultimately put in their place by a team that has embraced greatness as tightly as is humanly possible. Make no mistake, Australia are the Real Madrid of cricket. If you're a sports aficionado, you'll know there is no higher praise. Top