Australia: Third Time Champions
The defending champions, Australia emerged as the winners with a Hat Trick world cup champion's title in Barbados, West Indies. The West Indies team themselves failed to get a Hat Trick when they had a chance in 1983.
Historically Ricky Ponting has to have something big other than trophies in his bag to take home. Remember the Sharad Pawar controversy where Pawar was disrespected on the stage and Punter got the ICC on his back and bad press?
World Cup 2007 is no different but this time some genuine celebrations put him and his team in trouble. At the end, Umpires created rules drama and the Australia captain Ricky Ponting got the stick for celebrating too early. This is a dramatic end to other incidents such as the Pakistan coach's controversial death and a lot of one sided matches with no real cricketing excitement.
54 matches, 16 teams and only one team (Australia) played like true champions, proving once again in this event that no matter the opponent team, they make sure they are miles and miles out of reach by making the lives of their opponents miserable.
The top order has been in tremendous form for Aussies and never gave its middle order any chance in this whole event. The same was repeated today: the Aussie openers slashed Sri Lankan bowlers, taking advantage of the toss and the flat batting pitch.
The first half looked like Gilly against the entire Sri Lankan team. What a match and right time for Gilly to come into superb form. He wasn't at all violent in this World Cup and was very quiet but unleashed all his reserved strength in the final match and Sri Lanka had to bear the brunt of his ruthless batting.
Remember the 2003 finals with India? Indian fans can probably rejoice that Team India at least did not get this kind of brutal strike from these two players Gilly and Hayden. Gilly entertained the crowd by breaking Ponting's record of the highest individual score in WC finals.
From the third over he ripped Vaas' bowling apart. Gilly took one stride forward and hit it over the long on, into the stands for a six. Sangakkara stood close to the stumps so Gilly didn't charge down the pitch. This did not help Sri Lanka.
Spectators who were disappointed in the morning by rain enjoyed full justice from Gilly's bat. None of the Sri Lankan bowlers bowled a good line. Jayasurya got punished harshly for bowling on Gilly's leg stump. He just picked all the bowlers for a song but going on the back foot on Murali's bowling seemed dangerous. There was always the chance that he would go LBW. Finally he got out on his 5th chance.
Hayden's struggle at the other end was clear. He did not get the timing at all on most of the balls especially in Malinga's overs. Hayden and Gilly reversed their roles by Hayden taking the anchor role and Gillly a pinch hitter. Hayden became a full time spectator enjoying the fireworks of Gilly. Malinga troubled Hayden but Hayden got lucky many times, getting edges to the boundary.
Ponting let Gilly run the show till he got settled at the other end. Ponting did slow the run rate for Aussies, otherwise a score of 320 plus must have been possible.
Umpire Dar warned Ponting for running on the pitch - first Ponting and then Clarke. It seemed harsh when he signaled a dead ball, indicating no run, but the ball counted. A run has been denied to the batsman for running on the pitch. Was the Aussies' mistake to put Shane Watson early? No big effort from the other batsman put the Target score of Aussies to 281.
Sri Lanka's controversial strategy to rest Vaas and Murali in their previous encounter with the Australian team totally failed as both got clobbered by Gilly. Fernando replacing Vaas in bowling at a crucial time pushed Sri Lanka more into trouble. Maharoof might have been a good choice instead of Fernando. A flat pitch did not help Murali do his tricks on Kangaroos.
Sri Lanka does have blistering players like Gilly and that entire burden fell on Jayasurya. Tharanga is the first man to get a paltry score of eight. Jaya needed to pull of an Arvinda de Silva type 1996 performance to have any chance for Sri Lanka to win this match.
Jaya did his job, putting bowlers under pressure and Ponting to sweat. Sangakarra celebrated his 200th match in style with some hard hitting during power play. Sanga has not been in good form at all throughout this Cup.
The 13th over of McGrath is the time when match swinged to Sri Lanka's favor.
13.6 McGrath to Sangakkara, FOUR 13.5 McGrath to Sangakkara, FOUR 13.4 McGrath to Sangakkara, SIX
When Sangakkara and Jayasuriya were out, the match was kind of decided.
Rain created some drama at the end but by that time hopes of Sri Lanka winning is a distant possibility.
This is a batting pitch and the Aussie team did have their troubles restricting Sri Lankan batters. Hogg succeeded in spin again, giving Sangakkara's wicket as a present to the team. Good captaincy from Ponting by making good bowling changes all the time ,reserving McGrath for the last overs.
Commentators put this win correctly as "Australia played like machine ... a well oiled machine throughout this tournament without any downtime"
Australia are once again World Cup Champions.