Adam Gilchrist smashed Australia to World Cup glory with 149 off only 104 balls, his first World Cup century, in a rain affected final against Sri Lanka. In a match that will be remembered as much for the incredible innings by Gilchrist as it will for the farcical end to the game, the best team in the world came out on top again. With rain delaying the start by two hours, play eventually started with the game reduced to 38 overs a side. Australia, seeking their third World Cup in a row, and playing in their fourth consecutive final, won the toss and chose to bat first. The first 10 overs yielded 45 runs, the lowest Australian total for this period in the 7 week tournament, without the loss of either opener. Sri Lanka decided not to use the second, and last under the revised conditions, powerplay of 5 overs, and this is when Gilchrist began his onslaught. With Hayden playing a far more circumspect role then he has during the tournament thus far, Gilchrist took to the Sri Lankan bowling like a man possessed. Although the pitch was ideal for batting, it failed to take anything away from the awesome stroke play that Gilchrist treated the crowd to. He reached his century off only 72 balls, and showed for the third consecutive final he was the man for the big occasion. In the ’99 final he scored 54 from 36 balls against Pakistan, and in ’03 he hit 57 from 48 balls against India. With his dismissal the run rate slowed down, but the rate still reached over 6 an over for the rest of the innings, as contributions from Hayden, Ponting and Symonds, helped Australia set an imposing total of 281-4 from their 38 overs. As for the Sri Lankan bowling attack, built up for much of the tournament for their variation and strike power, none where able to deal with the Gilchrist attack, and did not recover fully from that barrage. Australia, as they have done in every match, struck early, as Bracken had Tharanga caught behind for 6. After that Jayasuria and Sangakkara began to consolidate, without letting the run rate get away from them. They then began to attack when set, not in a Gilchrist style, but impressively as a partnership in its own right. However with the rain clouds once again threatening the Sri Lankan batsmen began to chase the D/L score needed should the match be called off, and in doing so began losing wickets. The rain did come, the players left the field a few times, and these conditions, along with the fading light, did not help the Sri Lankan batsmen. Regular wickets fell and before long the run rate got away from them and the match was effectively over. And then the farce began. The light was offered to the batsmen and they took it. At this stage the Sri Lankans needed 63 runs from 18 balls. The Australians began to celebrate, ripping the stumps out, jumping and screaming with joy and forming a victory huddle. The stage began to be assembled for the closing ceremony and presentation. And the umpires started telling the Australians, and the crew, that the game wasn’t over, they hadn’t won yet! And so in almost darkness the Sri Lankans came back to bat out the final 18 balls before Australia could once again celebrate their well deserved victory. Under comical conditions, that were perhaps in keeping with the farce that much of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies was, the best team in the world emerged the right and true winners. Australia, remaining unbeaten, out played and often out classed all before them and deserved their title of World Cup champions – again.
Gilchrist Plunders Australia to World Cup Victory