'Indians bowled a lot of rubbish'
Australia proved conclusively that they are the best cricket team by hammering India in the final of the World Cup.Updated: Mar 25, 2003 00:50 IST
Australia proved conclusively that they are the best cricket team by hammering India in the final of the World Cup. In doing so they became only the second side after the West Indies in 1979 to successfully defend the trophy, a remarkable feat that was achieved with a combination of devastating fast bowling and aggressive batting.
When Adam Gilchrist opens out, the opposition bowlers come away feeling as though they have spent ten minutes whirling around in the dryer.
The bowlers end up being disoriented and their thinking muddled. And, on a pitch that offered a lot of assistance, the Indian attack bowled a high proportion of rubbish. Where you want to try and get Gilchrist scoring as many runs as possible from drives, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath fed him a steady diet of short balls that he devoured like an Afghan refugee who hadn't seen food for a month.
A series of cut and pull shots from Gilchrist quickly put Australia on top and negated the effect of losing the toss. Once Gilchrist had fired the opening salvo, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn cashed in on the hapless Indian bowlers to the point where they must have been happy to get through their overs in order to get off what had become a "killing field".
Ponting is a long hitter on the golf course and after his innings at the Wanderers you can see why - he hit twice as many sixes (8) as fours and some of his lofted shots travelled a long way, even when you take into consideration the altitude of Johannesburg.
Everything about Ponting's captaincy oozes aggression and he's not the sort of player to seek singles when a solid foundation has been established. From the moment he launched an onslaught on Harbhajan Singh with successive sixes he was on the look out for the maximum wherever possible and the Indian bowlers provided him with plenty of chances.
Ponting raced past Martyn who played extremely well considering he was hampered by a broken finger and World Cup final records fell in quick succession. The highest partnership and total were surpassed and the four Ponting hit off the last ball took him past Viv Richards 138*, the previous best score in a final.
This was only the fourth century in a final but despite raining sixes to all parts of The Wanderers, Ponting's hundred came off more balls than the first one and the only other one scored by a skipper, Clive Lloyd in 1975.
Not content with a commanding batting performance, Ponting then confirmed his advance as a leader. He maintained a cool-headed, aggressive approach as he juggled the tactics with showers threatening before the twenty-five over mark. Once that obstacle was cleared the Australians settled into their relentless mode to mow down the Indian batting line-up.
This was a victory set up by the batsmen but appropriately finished off by the ruthless bowling of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. They were the most devastating new ball pair in the tournament and they handled every pressure situation that was thrown at them.
Australia's final win was comprehensive and they played remarkable cricket to win every match and most of them by a wide margin. For all the plaudits handed out at the presentation ceremony the officials should be disturbed about the fact that there was hardly a close game once the Super Six stage commenced.
There were some great individual performances but the tournament was disturbingly short on competitive matches.
First Published: Mar 25, 2003 00:48 IST