Adam Gilchrist © Getty Images
Adam Gilchrist © Getty Images

 

By CricketCountry Staff

 

Sri Lanka vs Australia, ICC World Cup final, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, April 28, 2007

 

Australia won by 53 runs (D/L method)

 

It’s a measure of a quality player to produce quality performances when and where it counts most. Adam Gilchrist’s glittering career is studded with such gems of the rarest quality. But it’s his ability to produce them at the biggest theatre and quite consistently at that marks him as a very, very special player.

 

In the 1999 World Cup finaI against Pakistan, he scored 54 in 36 balls. In the 2003 World Cup final against India, he plundered 57 off 48 balls. And in the 2007 final, in a rain-curtailed game against Sri Lanka at Bridgetown, he blazed his way to 147 in just 104 balls.

 

And when a team has such a destructive player at the top, it annihilates the opposition in more ways than one. The effect of such destruction lasts long after the batsman is out. Often the damage is irrevocable.

 

Gilchrist’s plunder against Lankan powered Australia to 281 for 8 in 38 overs. The southpaw attracted copious attention after stuffing a squash ball inside his glove – for better grip, as he said later. Gilchrist aggressive design was evident in the second over itself when he brought his strong wrists into play to whip Chaminda Vaas to the square-leg fence.

 

Dilhara Fernando missed a caught-and-bowled chance of Gilchrist when the batsman was on 31. Lanka paid a big price for that miss. There was no respite for the Sri Lankan bowlers after that as Gilchrist bludgeoned them to all parts of the Kensington Oval. Gilchrist took heavy toll of Fernando when he whacked him for four, four and six.

 

The 20,000-plus crowd were thoroughly regaled by Gilly’s flurry of big hits – he smacked eight sixes and 13 fours. The pick of his shots was his six over extra-cover off Fernando.

 

Gilchrist clouted Lasith Malinga to the long-on boundary to bring up his 15 ODI century – off just 72 balls. He raised his bat and kept pointing to his left hand – one where he stuffed that squash ball.

 

Gilchrist was in such a destructive mood that his usually belligerent opening partner Matthew Hayden was compelled to play the sheet anchor role at the other end. Hayden’s contribution was just 38 in their 172-run opening wicket stand!

 

Australian captain Ricky Ponting said it was an “unbelievable” knock. “It was the one difference between the two teams in the final,” he opined.

 

Australia’s fourth World Cup win was sealed when Sri Lanka accepted the offer of bad light after the sixth ball of the 33rd over was bowled even as the closing moments were played in near-darkness.

 

It was Australia’s third World Cup win in a row and also extended their winning run in the showpiece event to 29 games since May 1999.