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Aussies take Champions Trophy home

The world champions score an eight-wicket victory over Windies in the final, reports Kadambari Murali. Scorecard

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 14:41 IST

As Ricky Ponting walked back to the pavilion, trapped in front by Jerome Taylor for naught, the West Indian players raced across the field in joyous celebration and the crowd erupted in vociferous support.

The sea breeze wafting in and across the ground seemed to suddenly become stronger, as if the gods of the seas were smiling in gentle benediction. Even the storm clouds that gathered over the Brabourne Stadium and the flashes of lightning didn't seem to dampen the atmosphere, which moved, as it had the entire day, from an anxious hush to absolutely electric, depending on how the West Indies were playing at that point of time.

This wasn't the Caribbean but if the West Indians were looking for a home away from home, they had found it on Sunday in this city of urban migrants, a city that beckons and entices one and all to come to her and follow their dreams. And perhaps, the Windies imagined that they would live theirs at the Brabourne.

Unfortunately, they didn't, going down to Australia by eight wickets after putting up a meagre 138 in a rain-interrupted game.

And while the scoreboard might show that the islanders looked to have been done in by their own caprice --- they did too much too fast, too furiously at the beginning while batting and then self-destructed ---- the bottomline is that the world champions were always going to be tough to beat. And despite their skipper's departure for a rare duck and the raucous propping up of the Windies by the large crowd, there was a certain fatalistic inevitability to this game's result --- the Aussies would rule.

The only worry really was the rain, showers forced play to be delayed by over two hours after the lunch break (Australia were then 45-2 in 10 overs needing just 94 with eight wickets in hand). To have a result on the day, the Aussies needed to bat a minimum of 20 overs or the game would have gone onto Monday, to be continued from where it was left off.

But luckily for everyone watching and an incredibly patient Mumbai crowd, the rains let up (the worst of it bypassing the Brabourne) and the Australian players joined in as the groundstaff carried out a massive mopping up operation with remarkable professionalism. That professionalism was repeated when Damien Martyn and Shane Watson came back to bat with a revised target of 116 to get in 35 overs and they did the job with clinical ease, sans flair but with 41 balls to spare.

Incidentally, the local grapevine had it that the Australians were doing their best to help out as they had planned an 8am departure on Monday and had already sent their baggage ahead to the airport by Sunday night. So this was one game they wanted to finish!

As for the Windies, they could take a little consolation from the fact that it would have needed something special to deny Australia the only major cricketing prize to have eluded them till now. And earlier in the afternoon, for a brief, blazing while, it did seem like the Windies had figured out that something special. When Shivnarine Chanderpaul did his usual shuffle, looked completely awkward and yet managed to smack the Aussie pacemen into a frantic fluster and Chris Gayle looked a bit tentative and then boomed into powerful dominance.

In five overs, the Windies had raced to 49-0 and the wizards of Oz were looking both vulnerable and muddled as they huddled together to figure out what to do. That they found their talisman not in either of their bowling superstars, Lee or McGrath, but instead were brought back by Nathan Bracken, also shows that champion teams are made up of a whole bunch of people stand up to be counted. When it matters.

Meanwhile, the Champions Trophy has finally found its way home, to the champions of the world. There it will rest, till two years from now, when it will be brought out again, across the border in Pakistan.

First Published: Nov 05, 2006 14:06 IST