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B Baskar

It’s Australia again

| Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 30, 2015

Australian players celebrate after defeating New Zealand in their Cricket World Cup final match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground March 29, 2015.   -  REUTERS

After Steve Smith hit the winning boundary against New Zealand on Sunday’s World Cup finals, I could hear a collective groan – “no, not Australia again”. But let’s not be churlish. Australia deserved to be the world champions for the fifth time as they were by far the best team in this excruciatingly long World Cup tournament.

For New Zealand, whom most neutrals including me supported, the writing was on the wall when Mitchell Starc’s Yorker, bowled at express speed, crashed into his off stump in the very first over of the match.

But after being three down for 39, Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot fought back gallantly and took the score to 150. At the stage a score of 250-260 seemed plausible. But the Aussie quicks, Johnson and Faulkner, bowled superbly and shot out New Zealand for 183. Now 183 was exactly what India had scored against the mighty West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final before staging the mother of all upsets. The New Zealand supporters would have fervently hoped for a repeat of that. But the Australian batsmen were clinical in their approach and chased down the meager total with almost 17 overs to spare. Leading the charge was captain Michael Clarke who was playing his last ODI for Australia with a superb 74.

So it was heartbreak for New Zealand who had reached the finals for the first time. But losing to this Australian side is no disgrace.

One-sided finals are not uncommon, Pakistan and India’s drubbing at the hands of the Australians in the 1999 and 2003 World Cup finals come to mind.

In a World Cup dominated by batsmen it was heartening to see bowlers James Faulkner and Mitchell Strac grabbing the man-of-the-match and player-of-the-tournament awards respectively.

Well done India

Despite the hyper ‘We won’t give it back’ ad campaign mounted by the official broadcaster, India did not really have a great chance to retain the cup. After a gruelling test series against Australia, which ended 2-0 in their favour, and sleep walking through the tri-series, Indians did well to reach the semis. The bowlers, who were the butt of everybody’s jokes, did a brilliant job until they had a day off against the inspired Australians in the semis. But reaching the semis is an achievement the Indian team can be proud about despite the petty ‘road rage’ displayed by sections of Indian fans and media.

This World Cup bid adieu to a few iconic players – Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka, Michael Clarke of Australia and Daniel Vettori of New Zealand. So did Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and Misbah ul-Haq.

In a World Cup where few matches ‘went down the wire’, the match of the tournament was the semi finals between New Zealand and South Africa which the Kiwis won in the last but one ball of their innings. The Afghanistan-Scotland group match was another thriller.

Amidst this tsunami of cricket, let’s take time out to laud the achievements of Indians in other sports, especially Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth’s victory in the India Open Badminton Championship. Let’s not forget, the world’s top ranking women’s badminton player is an Indian.

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Published on March 30, 2015
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