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ICC World Cup 2007: Aussie juggernaut rolls on, but Bob Woolmer's death spoil party

Australia won their third consecutive title, but a rain-curtailed final, mysterious death of celebrated coach Bob Woolmer and matches played at empty grounds made the maiden World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 a far from memorable event.

FEATURED WRITER
Feature 12 Feb 2015, 20:57 IST
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Australia 2007
The Australian cricket team after winning the 2007 World Cup

Australia won their third consecutive title, but a rain-curtailed final, mysterious death of celebrated coach Bob Woolmer and matches played at empty grounds made the maiden World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 a far from memorable event.

Triumphant in the first two editions of the event in 1975 and 1979, the region's long wait to host the Cup finally came to an end 32 years after the tournament began in England.

However, much had changed in the intervening three decades. West Indies were no more the world-beating side of the past. It was highlighted by the home team's failure to go beyond the Super Eight stage, that followed the initial group leagues and preceded the semifinals.

The home team's bleak show, together with high ticket rates and excessive security restrictions imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) drove out the local flavour from the tournament.

ICC banned outside food and musical instruments that forced disgruntled fans to turn their back on the event. It resulted in a marked reduced crowd at the stadia compared to earlier tournaments.

Sixteen teams played 51 games during the one-and-a-half month long competition staged at eight venues. The teams were divided into four groups and the two top sides of each group made it to the Super Eights.

Pre-tournament favourites India and Pakistan fell by the wayside in the group stage itself, but much lower-ranked Bangladesh and minnows Ireland made the cut for the Super Eight stage.

India, led by Rahul Dravid endured one of their worst Cup performances when they lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and were subsequently knocked out of the competition. Pakistan followed suit, losing to Ireland.

India's batting, regarded as their strong point, fared poorly, managing to score only 191 and 185 against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, in their group matches respectively. India's victory against the non-Test playing nation Bermuda was a mere statistical delight.

Irate fans attacked Mahendra Singh Dhoni's house in Ranchi, while effigies of the cricketers and coach Greg Chappell were burnt after India's exit.

West Indies, apart from their average performance, also suffered a big blow when their batting legend Brian Lara announced his retirement from the game, after the team's exit.

Defending champions Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa reached the semifinals. Sri Lanka got past New Zealand by 81 runs in the semifinal, while Australia reached the summit clash, registering a seven-wicket victory over South Africa.

But the title decider turned out to be a damp squib. The rain-curtailed encounter began as a 38-over affair, then was reduced to 26 overs for Sri lanka. Sri Lanka, replying to Australia's 281 for four, posted 215 for eight in 36 overs. Australia were declared the winners of the contest by 53 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Australia became the first team to win three back-to-back titles - their fourth overall - and also stretched their winning run to 29 games in the tournament, which began at the group stage of the 1999 edition.

In the midst of Australia's happiness, the cricketing world was stunned into disbelief when Pakistan coach Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room, a day after his team lost to Ireland. Various rumours started doing the rounds after mysterious circumstances of his death, fanned by the local police's initial claim that he was murdered.

But the investigators later said he died of natural causes. In November 2007, a jury in Jamaica recorded an open verdict on his death, after deciding that there was insufficient evidence of either a criminal act or natural causes.

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