The Australians celebrate with their first Champions Trophy © Getty Images
The Australians celebrate with their first Champions Trophy © Getty Images

November 5, 2006. In one of the mostly keenly-fought editions of Champions Trophy, every team lost at least one match. In fact, barring Australia, all sides lost at least three. After almost a month’s tussle the final turned out to be a ridiculous anticlimax, where Australia mauled West Indies with ease despite intervention from Mumbai rains. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back.

The organisers of the 2006 Champions Trophy should have learnt lessons after the disastrous 2004 edition, but they did not. The tickets remained overpriced. The tournament was held months before a World Cup, which, like 2002, took some sheen off the tournament.

In 2004 they had ignored Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford, and Trent Bridge. In 2006 they did not give a match to Eden Gardens, Wankhede, Chepauk, Kotla, or even Chinnaswamy — for ICC wanted stadia not involved in private advertising commitments.

Of the high-profile venues only Mohali got a chance. Ahmedabad or Jaipur were never among the biggest Indian grounds. Remarkably, though Wankhede was deprived, Brabourne Stadium was one of the four venues. About a kilometre away from Wankhede, Brabourne hosted a handful of matches since the inception of Wankhede in 1975.

It did not help that the tournament was held just after the monsoons. The pitches were still fresh, as a result of which fast bowlers dominated the tournament. This did not help the Indians, who were expected to thrive on helpful home wickets.

Scheduling was another problem. Diwali, the biggest festival in India, was on October 21 that year. This meant that India’s matches had to be scheduled on October 15, 26, and 29.

After a plethora of one-sided matches in the 2002 edition, Ajit Wadekar had insisted on having a set of qualifiers to ensure only the major teams participated. India, Australia, Pakistan, England, South Africa, and New Zealand — the top six teams — qualified directly, while the other two were to be selected from the bottom four — Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe.

While this was definitely a welcome change, this also meant a longer tournament. The 21 matches were scheduled across 29 days. One of the attractions of the tournament — the Olympic village-like setup where teams hobnobbed with each other in a ten-day span — was lost.

There were other issues as well. For example, BCCI wanted to put an end to Champions Trophy: “Since the ICC takes away a major part of the revenue, the tournament is a financial burden on the country which hosts it … We could have utilised the period to organise a Test and one-day series which would have gained us almost $70 to 80 million,” an official told AFP.

However, BCCI President Sharad Pawar later told that he would “respect” the decision if all ICC members were unanimous in their support towards Champions Trophy.

There was also the matter of Herschelle Gibbs, who was set to land in India for the first time since the match-fixing allegations of 2000. He finally arrived under an agreement that he would allow himself to be questioned by Delhi Police. He supposedly named “three former teammates”. He later joined his team in Mumbai following a detour of the South African High Commissioner’s office.

However, this was nothing compared to what Pakistan underwent. Inzamam-ul-Haq was suspended for the tournament after he conceded The Oval Test earlier that year (the Hairgate incident). Younis Khan was put in charge.

Then, just before the tournament got underway, Younis resigned all of a sudden, and Mohammad Yousuf was appointed captain. Within 24 hours of Younis’ resignation PCB witnessed a change in personnel. Younis was reappointed.

It did not end there. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif tested positive for Nandrolone and were both sent home — a day before Pakistan were supposed to play their first match. Yasir Arafat and Abdur Rehman were drafted in as replacement at the last moment.

In other news, neither Darrell Hair nor Billy Doctrove, the umpires in that controversial Oval Test, was a part of the umpires’ list for the tournament. The other eight Elite Panel members all were.

Amidst all this, the tournament got underway.

Qualifying matches

Upul Tharanga scored the first hundred of the tournament, a beautifully paced 105. Though nobody else went past 40, Sri Lanka still piled up 302 for 8. Bangladesh were never in the hunt after 78 for 4. A teenager called Shakib Al Hasan was left stranded with 67, helping add 39 and 38 for the last two wickets, but in the end Bangladesh folded for 265.

By this time Zimbabwe had lost their aura from five years back. They were bowled out for 85. Chris Gayle first took 3 for 3; then he slammed 41 not out in 34 balls. West Indies raced home in the 15th over.

Tharanga scored his second hundred in his next match. Sri Lanka put up 285 for 7 before knocking down Zimbabwe for 141. Elsewhere, Bangladesh were bowled out for 161, and West Indies won by 10 wickets, thanks to Gayle (104*) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (52*).

Bangladesh finally won their first match, against Zimbabwe. They scored 231 for 6 and bowled out Zimbabwe for 130. The big innings came from Shahriar Nafees.

And in what was expected to be the big match of the Qualifiers, the West Indians stuttered against Farveez Maharoof, who finished with an excellent 6 for 14 — the best figures in Champions Trophy.

West Indies, 51 for 1 at one stage, were bowled out for 80. Sri Lanka lost Tharanga first ball, but Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene chased down the target in the 14th over.

Group A

India began the tournament on a high. Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel, India’s new-ball bowlers, reduced England to 27 for 4 on a re-laid pitch at Jaipur. Irfan got the ball to move in the air a lot, but Munaf’s pinpoint accuracy and movement off the pitch made him  unplayable at times.

Flintoff promoted himself to one-drop, a move that flopped. There was some resistance from the middle-order, but Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar turned out to be more than a handful. England were bowled out for 125.

England lost Virender Sehwag early, in the eventful second over of the Indian innings, bowled by Steve Harmison. The over went for 20 (3 fours and a 5-wide ball) and a wicket.

Irfan, promoted to No. 3, provided Sachin Tendulkar with solid support. James Anderson got Irfan and Rahul Dravid in the space of 4 balls. With 7 runs to win, Jamie Dalrymple took out MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina in 3 balls as well. But in the end India won inside 30 overs.

Less than a month before the Australia-West Indies match, Australia had triumphed in the DLF Cup in Malaysia. West Indies were bowled out for 113 in the final. Runako Morton suffered the worst, managing a 31-ball duck.

It was Morton’s turn to pay back. For a while it seemed an encore of the many humiliations inflicted by Australia on hapless oppositions throughout the decade. After 15 overs, West Indies were 63 for 4. Having Dwayne Smith to bat at three had not worked.

Then Morton came to the forefront. Brian Lara, batting at six, struggled in the early phases. In fact, he got a mere 5 from the first 30 balls he faced. After 46 balls he was 12. Then he took control, racing to a 94-ball 71, exploding in a flurry of gorgeous strokes. There was a pulled six off Shane Watson, but the most memorable was a casual flick off Brett Lee that landed into the stands.

West Indies reached a decent 234. Australia lost Watson and Ricky Ponting early, but then Adam Gilchrist. In an avatar different from his usual self, Gilchrist began cautiously, not going for it unless there was a loose delivery. Michael Clarke helped him add 101. At one stage Australia needed 53 from 50 balls.

At this point Clarke cut Gayle to gully and set off. Wavell Hinds threw the ball to the non-striker’s end; Gilchrist turned too late and fell short; and Gayle celebrated in ecstasy. Clarke kept up with the asking rate, but with 29 to get from 24, he ballooned a slower delivery back to Dwayne Bravo.

Even then, Michael Hussey and Brad Hogg helped Australia inch towards victory. Australia needed 25 from 18 balls. Then Jerome Taylor conceded 4 singles off 4 balls.

Hussey, impatient by the proceedings, went for a cross-batted slog to a ball that was not there for the shot. He missed the line and was balled. An off-cutter got the better of Lee the next ball. Bravo rose to the challenge, conceding a mere 5 at the other end.

With 16 to score off the last over, it was time for desperate measures. Hogg moved outside the line to attempt a scoop over fine leg but miss; Taylor hit leg-and-middle to complete the first hat-trick in Champions Trophy.

Australia lost by 10 runs.

Despite a good start, England turned out to be pushovers in front of a now-charged Australian outfit. Andrew Strauss (56) and Ian Bell (43) added 83 for the opening stand, but barring them only Paul Collingwood got into double-figures. England were bowled out for 169 in 45 overs. As Wisden wrote in their report, “as sure as there are black kites gently wheeling over any Indian city, so an England collapse was never far away.”

England got early wickets, and at 34 for 3 things seemed hung in the balance. Then Damien Martyn (78*) took control the way he had throughout his career, and Australia won in the 37th over. It was the perfect boost Australia needed before the home Ashes that they would win 5-0. It was a shame that Martyn would have to retire during that series.

Jerome Taylor becomes the first to take a hat-trick in Champions Trophy © Getty Images
Jerome Taylor becomes the first to take a hat-trick in Champions Trophy © Getty Images

The Indians put up a sub-par show with bat in the next match. True, Dravid got 51 and Dhoni 49, but that was about it. Then Gayle got the quick runs at the top and Chanderpaul dropped anchor; and Sarwan and Morton ran their singles to make sure there was no mishap. India went in with four seamers (Ajit Agarkar and RP Singh to support Irfan and Munaf), but to no avail.

Then something bizarre happened. With 12 to score from 14 balls, a short-pitched ball never took off and trapped Morton in front. There was nothing to worry, for Lara drove Irfan beautifully past cover for four in the next over — but played on to the next.

With 6 to score off 7 balls, Marlon Samuels tried to clear mid-wicket. The ball went up, only for Dravid to drop a sitter. By then Sarwan, having completed a run, tore down the pitch for the second — and was nowhere close to the crease.

Agarkar then bowled Smith with the first ball of the final over, leaving West Indies to score 5 from 5 balls. Carlton Baugh missed the next ball. He could have been run out off the next ball had Agarkar hit at the bowler’s end; but Agarkar missed, and Baugh got the run.

And Samuels won the match with a slashed four outside off. West Indies had almost pulled off yet another of their spectacular collapses, but sanity prevailed in the end.

West Indies fans had sufficient reason to be upbeat after beating the world champions and the hosts of the tournament. England had been pushed aside by both India and Australia. The last match of the league was, thus, expected to be a mismatch.

Gayle (101) and Bravo (112*) indeed began that way, thrashing the England attack to take West Indies to 272 for 4. While that was a formidable total, they should certainly have got more from 144 for 1 after 30 overs.

However, having already qualified for the semi-final, West Indies had decided to rest Bradshaw and Smith. Fidel Edwards and Corey Collymore were picked.

With nothing to lose, Strauss went full-throttle after the fast bowlers before being undone by a slow, straight ball from Gayle. His 50 had come off 47 balls. Bell, too, scored exactly 50, but Gayle struck twice more to get Flintoff and Collingwood off consecutive balls. Then Samuels got Michael Yardy amidst some controversy: replayed revealed that Bravo had taken the catch on the bounce after dropping the ball. He would later go unpunished despite an inquiry.

At this stage England needed 93 from 77 balls. With not much batting to follow, Kevin Pietersen took charge. He began edgily, slashing and pulling while Dalrymple making sure he existed at the crease. Pietersen hit Edwards for 4 fours in 8 balls to push him out of the attack.

Then Dalrymple had a brain-freeze, going for an unnecessary heave over off. He missed the line and was bowled by Samuels. England needed 59 from 48. And when Bravo took out Chris Read with one of his famous slower deliveries they needed 41 from 32.

With all support running out, Pietersen launched into Taylor: the first four came off an inside edge, but the one off the next ball went booming past point. With an edged four and four leg-byes, Sajid Mahmood came to help as well.

Then Pietersen played the shot of the match. Bravo bowled yet another slower delivery, but KP had read it: he went down on one knee and still generated tremendous power; the ball soared over long-on for six. The winning hit was a flicked four from Mahmood. Pietersen remained unbeaten on a remarkable 86-ball 90; unfortunately, it all went in vain.

The last group match was the virtual quarter-final. With Australia having tasted blood after beating England and India looking lacklustre in against West Indies, the match could have gone only one way.

The highlight of the match was Glenn McGrath’s superb spell to Tendulkar. While Sehwag went hammer-and-tongs from the start, Tendulkar was pushed into the defensive by McGrath. Tendulkar did get a four, but that was off Lee. McGrath bowled a probing line outside off, forcing Tendulkar to leave almost everything.

He got a four off an edge, but two balls later McGrath bowled on a spot, made the ball move away and take the edge. Tendulkar has scored 5 off 15 balls from McGrath — one of them an edged four.

There was no respite for the Indians. Even Sehwag’s 65 took him 90 balls. When McGrath and Lee were not bowling, there were Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson, with Watson filling up the rest. Dravid counterattacked for his 63-ball 52.

Dhoni played a curious innings towards the end. He hit two fours, the second of which was a reverse-sweep off Bracken. But the salient feature of the innings was a mere 4 dots in 23 balls — and that included the first 2 balls and the last ball, where he was given leg-before despite an edge.

A target of 250 should have worried most sides, but the way Australia batted even 350 would have been achievable. They needed 184 from 240 balls after 10 overs, then 122 from 180, then 86 from 120, and later, 33 from 60. They reached home in the 46th over after Watson, Ponting, and Martyn all scored fifties. The others, Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds, both had strike rates over 80.

India were not blown away. They were cold-bloodedly eliminated.

Group B

Group B began in spectacular fashion. On a pitch that deteriorated with almost every over (“the top came off this one later on, leaving the batsmen frustrated and angry as puffs of dust accompanied the ball’s bounce”, reported Wisden), Stephen Fleming defied a five-pronged pace attack to score 89 braving the infamous Mumbai humidity.

None of the others could come in terms with the vagaries of the pitch. Brendon McCullum got 21, but that was it. New Zealand were bowled out for 195. Fleming was ninth out.

Then the fun began. It took Kyle Mills 7 balls to produce two gems, both pitching on a length: the first hit Boeta Dippenaar on the pad; the second bowled Gibbs through the gate. Mills then caught Jacques Kallis off his own bowling, stretching out his right hand in his follow-through and taking the catch behind him.

The decision to promote Mark Boucher for quick runs failed. Graeme Smith himself fought bravely for 42 before a short-pitched ball did not bounce and took him by surprise. Shaun Pollock played a half-hearted shot as the ball probably stopped.

The last wicket, of Makhaya Ntini, summed up the day. Jeetan Patel, never a great turner, got one to pitch outside off and make the ball turn at a near-improbably angle through the gate to hit off. South Africa were bowled out for 108.

Things took a different course at Jaipur the following day. As mentioned above, Pakistan had lost Inzamam, had two changes of captain in the span of 24 hours, and had Shoaib and Asif returning home after testing positive for Nandrolone. To add to that, a group of Hindu fundamentalists held a demonstration outside the ground against the participation of Pakistan.

Of course, none of that had any impact on Jayasuriya, who blazed away to a 35-ball 48. The back-up opening pair of Naved-ul-Hasan and Iftikhar Anjum were taken to cleaners before Umar Gul put a check on the score.

Unfortunately, despite the starts, four other men — Tharanga, Mahela, Kumar Sangakkara, and Marvan Atapattu — all scored between 31 and 38. Abdul Razzaq took 4 for 50, while the spinners — Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, and Mohammad Hafeez — all did their bits to put check on the runs. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 253.

Then began the difficult bit. Pakistan put away Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga with ease. They lost Hafeez for a 15-ball 22 and Maharoof got Younis with his first ball, but Imran Farhat got 53, and Yousuf (49) held the innings together.

Unfortunately, runs dried out once Muttiah Muralitharan came on. At the other end Jayasuriya pegged down batsmen with his famous darts. Between them they conceded 70 from 20 overs, and the asking rate mounted.

Farhat tried to loft Murali against the turn and perished. Afridi holed out. Yousuf ran himself out to nobody’s surprise. And just when Malik cleared the ground off Murali to bring the asking rate under control, Maharoof took an outstanding running catch to send Kamran Akmal back. Pakistan needed 53 from 47 balls at this stage.

Razzaq walked out. He had a measure of the situation. There was not much batting left, but he knew he could count on Malik. So he ran a few singles, had a lucky escape when Tillakaratne Dilshan put one down, and finally decided he had enough. He cover-drove Malinga for four and dismissed Vaas over long-off into the stands before hitting Malinga for another straight four. He finished things off with a straight six off Dilhara Fernando; Pakistan had 11 balls left.

Thus, with their main captain gone, two captains changed, two new-ball bowlers ruled out, and up against a steep rate, Pakistan still managed to cruise home.

No, there are mysteries in Pakistan cricket nobody can yet fathom.

Abdul Razzaq finishes things off in the company of Shoaib Malik. Do note the inverted cap inside Razzaq’s helmet; yes, Jaipur heat can be unrelenting © Getty Images
Abdul Razzaq finishes things off in the company of Shoaib Malik. Do note the inverted cap inside Razzaq’s helmet; yes, Jaipur heat can be unrelenting © Getty Images

New Zealand, who had looked outstanding against South Africa, were then hit hard by Sri Lanka. Nathan Astle scored 42, but it was really a last-wicket stand of 47 between Vettori (46*) and Patel that took them to 165. Murali (10-1-23-4) and Jayasuriya (10-0-26-2) turned out to be more than a handful for them.

The match was decided by the Sri Lankan top three: Jayasuriya got off to a flier before Tharanga (56) and Mahela (48) sealed things.

Sri Lanka then played out their last match as well. With their back to the wall (they were the only winless side in the group at this point), South Africa were rescued by Kallis (43) and a young AB de Villiers (54). They eventually reached 219 for 9.

Once again the spinners did well, but the hero of the innings was Malinga: he yorked three batsmen en route 4 for 53. South Africa would get further taste of his yorkers in the World Cup a few months down the line.

Sri Lanka were then reduced to 34 for 4. Mahela and Dilshan (36 each) before the former fell to a tremendous team effort, on 78: Dilshan cut Kallis; Gibbs dived to his left to field and threw it to Kallis; Mahela was out of the crease and Kallis mis-fielded — but all was not over, for Pollock swooped in, picked up the ball, and broke the stumps with a spectacular dive.

Sri Lanka never recovered from there. They were bowled out for 141 — less than three months after Sri Lanka had humiliated them courtesy that 624-run stand between Sangakkara and Mahela.

New Zealand and South Africa both one match left apiece, both against Pakistan. The only way Pakistan could have not qualified was by losing matches: they achieved exactly that — after that win against Sri Lanka.

Fleming had failed against Sri Lanka, but he more than made up here with an aggressive 80. Scott Styris outscored him with 86, and with Jacob Oram and McCullum hitting out freely, New Zealand smashed 89 in the last 8 overs. They eventually got to 274 for 7 in their 500th ODI.

Hafeez kept Pakistan in the hunt with a 46-ball 43. Yousuf (77) and Malik (52) then took control, and at one stage Pakistan needed 98 from 81 balls with 6 wickets in hand. Then Shane Bond got Yousuf off an odd shot, Razzaq holed out in the deep, and Malik hit straight to cover. Pakistan were bowled out for 223.

It was obvious that the side with superior seamers would prevail on the green Mohali pitch which, in addition, provided what Wisden described as “trampoline bounce”.

The match began in sensational fashion. The second ball of the match, bowled by Gul, swung too much for Smith and hit him on the pads. A wide ball later Gul had Gibbs caught at slip.

Dippenaar and Kallis plodded for a while but neither lasted as Iftikhar came to the party after not conceding a run from his first 3 overs. Yasir Arafat, playing for Naved, had AB caught-behind off a beauty. The score read 42 for 5 at this stage.

Boucher (69) and Justin Kemp (64) saved the day for South Africa, adding 131 for the sixth wicket. Nel hit a couple of fours to take South Africa to 213 for 8.

The damage had been done. Barring that huge partnership, the others partnerships had managed 82 between them.

It took one whirlwind spell of 5-2-8-5 from Ntini to settle things. Afridi hit out with a four and six before he became Pollock’s second wicket. At 47 for 8 it seemed Pakistan might not reach fifty, but Arafat’s 27 took them to 89 before Charl Langeveldt cleaned them up. The mayhem lasted 25 overs.

The semi-finals

New Zealand have traditionally punched above their weight against Australia. They also had a better record in Champions Trophy: after all, they had won one edition whereas Australia have never even made it to the final.

Mills gave them the start they needed, taking Watson and Gilchrist inside his first 10 balls. However, there was a reason Australia were the greatest team in the world at that time — that too by a considerable margin. This was a team that often features in discussions involving all-time greatest sides. In a few months’ time they would crush every side to lift their third consecutive World Cup.

Ponting got a patient 58. Martyn and Hussey chipped in. And when the time came for acceleration, those huge biceps of Symonds came into play: his 58-ball 58 and some late flourish from Bracken took Australia to 240 for 9, Mills taking 4 for 38.

It was not a big score, but then, this was Australia. Fleming found consecutive fours off McGrath, but the great man soon had Lou Vincent caught at slip. Astle was cleaned up by a scorcher from Lee. Hamish Marshall slashed McGrath to Gilchrist. Bracken, persisting with a line outside off, had Fleming edging. Peter Fulton shouldered arms to a McGrath delivery that crashed into the off-stump. And McCullum hit Bracken to mid-on. New Zealand became 35 for 6.

Oram (43) and Vettori (79) then added 103, but by the time the partnership ended, the asking rate had climbed up to above 6. James Franklin played a couple of brave shots. New Zealand refused to give up even after 9 wickets fell (Mills and Bond added 26 in 20 balls), but there was really too much to do after 35 for 6. New Zealand lost by 34 runs.

Elsewhere, in Jaipur, South Africa got 258 for 8 against West Indies, mostly due to Gibbs (78) and de Villiers (46). They added 92 for the fourth wicket before Kemp and Robin Peterson went for the shots.

It was supposed to be a steep chase, but this was one of those days when everything came off for Gayle. He smashed 2 fours in the first over (from Pollock), and generally dominated Ntini and Nel. Chanderpaul did not let the tempo down at the other end (he even lofted Nel for six over square-leg), but it was really Gayle’s day.

The pair waltzed away to 154 after 26 overs before the partnership ended in the only way it could have: Chanderpaul had to retire due to cramps, for 57. Sarwan played a cameo, as did Bravo. Then both Lara and Morton failed, and for a moment there was a sense of déjà vu, evoking memories of the chase in the India match. However, West Indies calmly reached home with 6 overs to spare.

As for Gayle, he remained unbeaten on a 135-ball 133.

The final

No other match in the tournament epitomised the characteristics of the two sides in the 2000s than the final. In fact, no other match in the decade did.

On one hand there was West Indies, perhaps the most talented side, a group of mercurial men who can run down any battalion or commit hara-kiri without rhyme or reason; on the other there was Australia, a disciplined, professional army of men who can stand up in face of any adversity, wait till the storm passes by, then grab the enemy by the throat.

Yes, it was a contest that reflected both characteristics to the extreme. But before that, let us delve a bit into the pre-final controversy.

The final was scheduled at Brabourne, owned by Cricket Club of India (CCI). The wickets for the league matches had not impressed CCI President Raj Singh Dungarpur, especially after the pitches for the league matches received severe criticism for being so underprepared that there were often mini-explosions where the ball landed, resulting soil layers coming off in a puff of dust.

Indeed, the first two matches had witnessed West Indies getting bowled out for 80 and South Africa for 108. Both teams later made it to the semi-final stage, which was further proof that neither was a weak outfit.

The proceedings had hurt Dungarpur. Unfortunately, his plea fell on deaf ears, and the match was played at Brabourne, as scheduled.

But let us get back to the match, where Chanderpaul launched into Lee in the first over with two fours past point. After a peaceful over from Bracken, Chanderpaul almost decapitated Lee with a straight-drive; then he went for a cross-batted hoick and the ball took the edge. Unfortunately for Lee, his pace carried it over the third-man boundary. Gayle, watching all this nonchalantly, now responded with 3 fours.

West Indies raced to 49 without loss in 5 overs. Lee had gone for 36 from 3 overs. Chanderpaul’s 27 had come from 17 balls and Gayle’s 17 from 15. How much would they score? 250? 300? More?

They refused to stop when Chanderpaul dragged one on to the stumps. Sarwan walked out and cover-drove Bracken for four. Gayle muscled McGrath into the stands over long-on.

And even when Sarwan lobbed one to mid-on, Lara refused to go defensive. He promoted Bravo.

Then Gayle went after McGrath. When the latter went for a bouncer, Gayle pulled him into the stands. The next ball, another pull, ran across the ground. The next ball was not far away from mid-off, but Gayle had hit it so hard that Martyn did not get time to move.

McGrath had conceded 22 from his first 2 overs. West Indies had reached 79 for 2 in 9 overs. Gayle’s 37 had come off 24 balls. Lara, Morton, and Samuels waited in the pavilion. Baugh could bat. Bradshaw had won the final of the previous edition of the Champions Trophy with his bat.

No, 300 was a minimum from there.

Then Bracken produced a beauty. The ball pitched on off and sped on, hitting off-stump and sending Gayle back. Amidst all the madness, Bracken had taken out 3 for 20 from 5 overs.

Then, finally, Lara decided to buck down. And the moment he did that, Australia turned the tables. McGrath found Lara’s edge and Gilchrist took an excellent low catch to his left. Morton edged one off McGrath. Samuels hit Watson to mid-on. A shuffling Baugh missed and was adjudged leg-before. Bravo misread Hogg’s Chinaman as a googly, shouldered arms, and was bowled. Bradshaw inside-edged an express delivery from Lee. And the innings came to a fitting end when Collymore wanted a run, Taylor sent him back, and Symonds threw the stumps down.

West Indies were bowled out for 138 in 30.4 overs after being 49 without loss in 5 overs. In other words, the 25.4 overs in the interim yielded 10 for 89. The last 8 wickets fell for 58, in 21.1 overs. It was a collapse matched by few others.

In fact, so astonishing was the collapse that the Australians had about 40 minutes of batting before dinner.

West Indies started well. Bradshaw had Gilchrist caught at slip in the third over. In the next over Taylor trapped Ponting leg-before. At that stage the score read 13 for 2. However, Watson and Martyn batted till dinner, helping Australia reach 45 for 2 after 10 overs. They needed another 94.

It rained heavily in the break. However, with two reserve days in store and a minimum of 10 overs to play for a result, there was little to worry about. Thankfully, play resumed, and Australia were set 116 from 35 overs — in other words, another 71 from 25 overs.

Watson (57*) and Martyn (47*) reached there without much fuss. There were still 41 balls left to be played when Watson flicked Sarwan for the single that got Australia the elusive trophy.

But that was not the end of the story. Rameez Raja went through the usual rituals of presentations (for some reason he signed off by requesting everyone to “be good and be cool” till the World Cup).

Then BCCI President Sharad Pawar delayed handing over the trophy to the Australians. This led to Ponting (clearly) jokingly asking for the trophy. There was nothing wrong with that. Nobody complained. Even Pawar handed it over with a smile.

Then the Australians, wanting the dais to themselves, escorted Pawar off it. At once there were allegations against them, especially Martyn, for ‘pushing’ Pawar.

The Indian media went after the Australians, calling them ‘rude’ and ‘arrogant’.

“This is how champions behave when they get the trophy,” ran the headline on The Indian Express. “They are supposed to be aggressive, even rude on the field. On Sunday, Australia showed they are not exactly polite off it too,” reported The Times of India.

Outrage came from all corners. For example, the typically low-key Dilip Vengsarkar commented: “You expect such behaviour from uneducated people. If they wanted to pose for photographs, they could have politely requested him. This is appalling.”

Tendulkar, never one to get into controversies, added: “It’s important to show respect to a person who is so dear to the cricketers and is involved with cricket. Such incidents should be avoided.”

Indian fans protesting against Martyn’s ‘push’ by painting a donkey with Martyn’s name and Australian national colours © AFP
Indian fans protesting against Martyn’s ‘push’ by painting a donkey with Martyn’s name and Australian national colours © AFP

Ponting cleared up things somewhat in an interview, as reported by AFP: “I’ll be doing the best I can to get my point across to the concerned people in India and let them know we were not trying to embarrass them or anything like that. We were all pretty keen to get our hands on the trophy and celebrate accordingly.”

There was no ambiguity in Martyn’s tone, either: “I didn’t mean to offend him and I apologise if I did so. There was nothing in it other than me trying to help him out as there was a crush of people.”

What about the man in question? “It was a small thing, a stupid thing: I don’t want to react,” told Pawar to The Hindustan Times.

Things got sorted out after a conversation between Pawar and Ponting.

Brief scores: 

West Indies 138 in 30.4 overs (Nathan Bracken 3 for 22) lost to Australia 116 for 2 in 28.1 overs (Shane Watson 57*, Damien Martyn 47*) by 8 wickets with 41 balls to spare (on Duckworth-Lewis).

Man of the Match: Shane Watson.

Man of the Series: Chris Gayle.