This day that year: Dominant Australia become the first team to win three World Cups

Sourav Ganguly won the toss in the 2003 World Cup final and elected to field.
Sourav Ganguly won the toss in the 2003 World Cup final and elected to field.

Australia created history by becoming the first team to win three World Cup titles. They achieved this feat on 23rd March, 2003 when they beat India in the final of the 2003 World Cup at Johannesburg.

The defending champions, Australia, were dominant and unbeaten throughout the 2003 World Cup. The final against India was expected to be a close contest as the Men in Blue too were on a winning spree. Apart from the loss against Australia in group stages, team India beat every team they faced in the mega tournament which was held for the first time in South Africa.

The toss was won by the then Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and he had no hesitation in putting the Aussies into bat first as the pitch was a bit damp because of rain in the morning.

Zaheer Khan, who had been the real star for India in the Cup, conceded 15 runs in the first over and the Aussies dominated the Indian bowing completely. The openers Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden added 105 runs for the first wicket. India picked up the wickets of both the openers at the score of 125 in 19 overs and there was a glimmer of hope for the Men in Blue to make a comeback in the game.

The Australian skipper Ricky Ponting had other plans. Ponting, along with Damien Martyn, toyed with the Indian bowling attack and added 234 runs in 30.1 overs. The Indian pace trio comprising, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra, had no answers to the onslaught of Ponting and Martyn. The most experienced Indian pacer Srinath conceded 87 runs in his 10 overs whereas Zaheer had figures of 0-67 in 7 overs. Nehra was a bit economical and conceded 57 runs in 10 overs but could not pick up any wickets.

Ricky Ponting scored an unbeaten century in the finals
Ricky Ponting scored an unbeaten century in the finals

The Australian skipper scored an unbeaten 140 of 121 balls which included 4 boundaries and 8 huge sixes. Martyn, on the other hand, scored 88 runs of 84 balls which included 7 boundaries and 1 six. The Aussies piled on a mammoth score of 359/2 in 50 overs, the highest ever in a World Cup final.

The target of 360 was never chased in an ODI in the year 2003 and the Indian team was under pressure right from the word go. Glenn McGrath picked up the priced wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in the first over in the run chase for just 4 and India were on the back foot immediately. The Indians were bundled out for a total of 234 in 39.2 overs with McGrath picking up 3 wickets for 52 runs in 8.2 overs. He was well supported by Brett Lee who picked up 2 wickets for 31 runs in his 7 overs. Virender Sehwag was the top scorer in the Indian innings and had 82 runs to his credit before he was run out.

Australia won the finals of the 2003 World Cup by 125 runs and the dreams of team India to win a World Cup after 20 years was shattered.

Australia, on the other hand, won their third World Cup and the Australian ODI team dominated world cricket in the next few years, winning their fourth World Cup title in the year 2007.

Australia celebrate with the trophy.
Australia celebrate with the trophy.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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