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WC 2007: dubious distinction and bad luck

A dubious record for McGrath and few other interesting facts about the final from Atul Sondhi.

cricket Updated: Apr 28, 2007 13:50 IST

As Sri Lanka and Australia make a final dash for glory at Barbados, few things stand out, about the final and the players.

Three runs from four World Cups

The incomparable Glenn McGrath is the highest wicket-taker in the World Cup history and should pip Vaas to the post as highest wicket-taker in this edition too. But the pigeon has another record to his credit, something not many bowlers would like to have.

Though a reasonable tailender with the bat, he has made just three runs in his four World Cups leading to the 2007 final! Less than one run per World Cup so far. Though the only satisfying thing will be that all three runs have come against their trans-Tasmanian rival New Zealand at Port Elizabeth in a Super six match in 2003.

But McGrath's record was something expected considering the strong Australian lineup, which has allowed him to occupy the crease just four times in four tournaments. If he does not make any runs today, in his 39th World Cup match, he will carry a dubious record which may never get broken. A record of one run scored per thirteen matches!

No chokers these!

The only teams in the World Cup history who have the experience of batting second and winning the Cup are Sri Lanka and Australia. Before Sri Lanka beat Australia in 1996, every team which had won the toss had elected to bat. However, Sri Lanka, confident of their strong batting lineup, decided to do the opposite by putting Australia in. It clicked despite the initial scare which saw Mark Taylor on rampage. The eventual target of 242 was not too much on a batsmen friendly pitch of Lahore for Ranatunga's men.

Four years later, Pakistan decided to bat in a bold move at Lords, but could not withstand the firepower of the Australians. They folded out for just 132 runs in 39 overs, handing Australians the title on a platter.

So certainly on past record, these two teams are no chokers. Batting second and winning will be no new experience for them.

First ever grudge final

In the history of the World Cup, it will mark the first time when there is a grudge match taking place in the final. Same teams have never met in the final of the World Cup before.

West Indies met three different opponents in the final – Australia in 1975, England in 1979 and India in 1983. Australia, besides 1975 meeting with the West Indies, met England in 1987 final, Sri Lanka in 1996, Pakistan in 1999 and India in 2003.

Incidentally, the only World Cup final not to have figured the first finalists, either Australia or the West Indies, took place in 1992 when Pakistan vanquished England.

Underperformer in WC matches

Jayasuriya, the most explosive Sri Lanka batsman and one of Sri Lanka's biggest hopes, has never clicked in the semifinals or the final of the World Cup. In the Semifinal against India in 1996, he was out in the very first over slashing Srinath to Prasad on the thirdman fence after scoring just one run. While in the final at Lahore, he was run out with just 9 against his name.

Same performance was repeated in the Semifinal against New Zealand four days ago when Jayasuriya made only one before he was cleaned up by Franklin.

However, if his string of low scores in knockout matches is a good omen for Lanka, they will take it any day!

Unluckiest World Cup player

Indians talk so much about Sunil Walson who never played a single match in the 1983 campaign, but spare a though for poor Atapattu. If Sri Lanka win today, he will be the only player to have figured in two World Cup winning
teams without playing a single game.

In the two World Cups that he has played – 1999 and 2003 – he averages a very decent 43 per cent. In the last campaign when Sri Lanka were stopped by Australia in the semis, he was averaging 54.6!

But how long his bad luck can turn out to be Sri Lanka's good luck will eventually be seen today.