March 23, 2003, is a day that won’t bring back happy memories for Indian cricket fans. However, if you are purely a cricket connoisseur, there could hardly have been a better show of cricketing brilliance and dominance.
Yes, we are talking about the final of the ICC World Cup in 2003 that saw Ricky Ponting’s Australia running roughshod over a hapless India at the Wanderers in South Africa’s Johannesburg. The Australians won the match by 125 runs to win their second ICC World Cup on the trot and the third overall. Ponting led from the front with an unbeaten 140 off 121 balls peppering the boundary constantly and frequently sending balls sailing over the ropes. His knock included four fours and twice as many sixes.
Also read - Celebrating 7 Years of MS Dhoni’s Brilliance Behind Stumps Against Bangladesh in 2016 T20 World Cup
The video of the Australian blitzkrieg was shared on Twitter which seemed to open up old wounds for the Indian fans. See the video here:
A captain’s knock #OnThisDay in 2003, @RickyPonting thrashed Indian bowling as he scored 140* off 121 (4×4, 8×6) in the World Cup Final.Australia’s second successive World Cup Win & third overall.
Australia didn’t lose a single match in the tournament pic.twitter.com/LQ8pDWJK0C
— Cricketopia (@CricketopiaCom) March 23, 2023
Ponting was ably supported by Damien Martyn, who hit 88 not out in less than a run-a-ball with seven fours and a six after Matthew Hayden (37 off 54 balls) and Adam Gilchrist (57 off 48 balls) had laid a solid foundation.
Nearly every Indian bowler went for runs. Veteran Javagal Srinath gave away 87 runs in his 10 overs, while Zaheer Khan, who fluffed his lines terribly in the first over itself by giving away 15 runs, went for 67 runs in his seven overs. Such was the attack on the young pacer that he had to be withdrawn before he could complete his full quota of overs. Zaheer’s fellow left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra somehow managed to escape the full brunt of the Aussie attack, conceding 57 runs in 10 overs.
The Australians put on a mammoth 359/2 in their 50 overs, which was considered to be almost insurmountable at that time. In reply, India lost its greatest talisman Sachin Tendulkar in the first over itself and despite Virender Sehwag’s best efforts, never recovered and folded up meekly for 234. However, there was just a glimmer of hope for India with rain interrupting play around the 17th over. However, no time was lost and the match thereafter went in the direction that one thought it would. Glenn McGrath was the pick of the bowlers with 3/52. Andrew Symonds chipped in with 2/7 and Brett Lee with 2/31.
Also read - On This Day in 1971: Sunil Gavaskar Scored his First Test Century and The Rest is History!
However, for a moment, if you keep this power-packed performance by that legendary Australian team aside, this abject capitulation by Sourav Ganguly’s team was not expected. After facing flak for under-par performances at the start of the tournament that saw them huff and puff to victory against the Netherlands and get thumped by Australia, India staged a fine comeback winning the rest of the matches against Zimbabwe, Namibia, England, Pakistan, Kenya (twice), Sri Lanka and New Zealand to charge into the final. One was not used to such consistent dominance by India in multilateral ODI events and the fans were soaking it all in.
The Indian speedsters were putting up match-winning performances and Nehra’s 6/23 versus England and 4/35 versus Sri Lanka, Srinath’s 4/35 against Sri Lanka and Zaheer’s 4/42 against New Zealand stood out. In the batting department, Master Blaster Tendulkar led the way with 673 runs, including a century and a couple of 90s. His blistering 98 off 75 balls against Pakistan and the upper cut six off Shoaib Akhtar are now the stuff of legends.
However, it was one hurdle too many for India and the deserving team won in the end.
Get the latest Cricket News here