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No-fight final: The Aussies are super-champs

Ricky Ponting had a smile on his face as soon as he was invited to bat by Sourav Ganguly and after that he never stopped smiling.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2003 00:40 IST
Binoo K. John
Binoo K. John

Ricky Ponting had a smile on his face as soon as he was invited to bat by Sourav Ganguly and after that he never stopped smiling. In keeping with the trend of this World Cup which were a clutter of one-sided matches, the Australians demolished India, in a frightening manner to lift the World Cup for the second time in a row.

So daunting has been Australia as a team that soon it might become imperative not to invite the team to one-day tournaments. They have perfected every strategy, mastered every stroke, make every possible positive move on the field and are deserving winners after scoring the hugest total in World Cup History, 359, a score enough to win a Test match. India’s 234 was far less than what they were capable of.

India can be proud that they lost only twice in the World Cup and both occasions to the best team ever seen in the history of one-day cricket.

India can come back home with the stirring thought that they are the second best team in the world, but second by a huge margin. From the first over there was never any doubt as to who was the superior team on the field in
the final of this competition.

On a day which was expected to be full of mirth and the triumphant sounds of cracker-burst all over the huge Indian countryside,gloom descended as soon as the first over went for 15 runs and the ball never swung nor swayed. Whatever little hope was left in undying Indian hearts was put out in the first over of the Indian innings itself when Sachin Tendulkar was out in his desperation to offer a semblance of a fight.

When it rained after the 14th over and Virender Sehwag was going boom-boom
there was a bit of hope. But all that was just a make-believe. It rained of course but what mattered in the end was the rain of sixes and boundaries at
the Wanderers —10 sixes, eight by Ricky Ponting alone in his memorable 140 in 121 balls.

Captain Ponting showed who were champions and who the aspirants. He had said yesterday that his team knew what exactly a World Cup final was all about.
He led from the front, his puny frame a powerhouse of talent and quick thinking.
Ganguly made the biggest mistake of his life in the greatest occasion he could be in. Gods not only favour the brave, they do not favour those who try to be clever by half. The point that Ganguly forgot is when playing a vastly superior side to which he had lost quite badly the first time around, there was no point trying to do the impossible—bowl them out for a low score.

It was a negative decision because though he will not admit it, the fact ishe did not want to give Brett Lee and Glen McGrath a chance to bowl when there was a bit of moisture. He should have played to his strength—his batting. He could have at least let Sachin Tendulkar go out to bat with no runs on the board rather than look up at 359 runs.

Instead Ganguly who captained Indian brilliantly in the tournament, went out in a negative frame of mind and paid the price on a beauty of a pitch which had something for everyone, even left arm slow bowlers.

Disasters come in clutters and not in ones and twos. Today was India’ turn to face disaster and nothing went right. The report from the Hindustan Times
correspondent on the eve of the match suggested that the Indian team look
too tense and gloomy on the eve of the final. It showed.

It is a pleasure seeing the Australians in full flow. The Ponting-Martyn partnership was astounding by any standards and they actually set their own
levels a notch or two higher. It is a level which few teams will reach.

The pace bowlers over-reached and the ball was sent to all corners of the lovely ground.

Ganguly-Tendulkar and the boys can come home with their heads held high. It was a stirring tournament for them. They emphasized once again that cricket is truly India’s game. In the end what mattered is that a young team on the rise, made a billion hearts flutter in joy for the last two months.

That is more than what we can ask of eleven young men made to believe in
themselves by a humble but determined man called John Wright.

First Published: Mar 24, 2003 00:40 IST