The 2003 World Cup is synonymous with Australia’s dominant performances and how they brushed teams aside in South Africa to reach the final before crushing India to lift their second successive World Cup in a row. One of the key players for the Aussies was captain Ricky Ponting and his imperious form with the bat as he finished with 415 runs behind India’s Sourav Ganguly (465) and Sachin Tendulkar (673).
Despite finishing third in the list of top scorers, Ponting was key to Australia’s success along with Adam Gilchrist, who also had a good tournament with the bat, scoring 408 runs from 11 matches. Ponting averaged 87.2 and slammed two centuries as well.
While one of them came in the 1st Super Six game against Sri Lanka (114 at SuperSport Park in Centurion), the other one came in the summit clash against India as the Aussies won the game by 125 runs in Johannesburg.
In the final, Ponting smashed an unbeaten 140 off 120 balls as the Indian bowlers looked hapless and failed to pick up wickets with the Aussie skipper putting on an unbeaten 234-run stand with Damien Martyn (88*) as Australia posted a mammoth score of 359/2 from their 50 overs.
Ponting, who came in to bat after Adam Gilchrist departed in the 14th over for 57, started off slowly and was batting at way less than run-a-ball but Martyn kept the scorecard ticking, thus, allowing the Australian skipper get on with it. It was not until the 39th over Ponting decided to have a go at it and slammed Harbhajan Singh for two sixes to reach 62 off 77 balls and also bring up his half-century in the process.
He then stepped on the accelerator and slammed the next fifty runs off just 30 balls to bring up his 13th century in ODIs in the 46th over. His onslaught continued as he added 37 runs in the last four overs himself to remain not out on 140 as Australia went into the break with one hand on the trophy. His innings was laced with four boundaries and eight sixes.
Coming in to bat, India lost Sachin Tendulkar in the first over and couldn’t quite put together too many partnerships despite Virender Sehwag’s 81-ball 82. The Men in Blue were bowled out for 234 in the 40th over as Australia won the game and tournament.
Ponting was also adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his sensational century.
Eventually, Ponting finished as one of the greatest batsmen in World Cup with five centuries in 46 games and scoring 1743 runs at an average of 45.86. Punter’s first World Cup was in 1996 while his last was in 2011 which India won in India. Only India’s Rohit Sharma (6) and Tendulkar (6) have more World Cup centuries than Ponting while former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara also has five to his name.