When Ponting’s Australia won the third World Cup | Sunday Observer

When Ponting’s Australia won the third World Cup

10 September, 2023
Ricky Ponting and the Australian team with the 2003 World Cup
Ricky Ponting and the Australian team with the 2003 World Cup

The 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup was the eighth in its history organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC). It was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya from February 9 to March 23, 2003. This edition of the World Cup was the first to be played in Africa.

The world cup featured 14 teams, the largest number in the World Cup’s history at the time, playing a total of 54 matches. It followed the format introduced in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, with the teams divided into two groups, and the top three in each group qualifying for the Super Sixes stage.

The tournament saw numerous upsets, with South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies and England all being eliminated at the group stage. England forfeited their match with Zimbabwe, due to the political unrest in the country, which ultimately enabled that team to reach the Super Sixes.

Similarly, New Zealand forfeited their match with Kenya, due to security reasons which enabled the latter to reach the semi-finals, the only non-Test playing nation to do so. Another shock wave came two days after the tournament had started, when Shane Warne, at the time one of the game’s leading spinners, was sent home after testing positive for a banned substance.

The tournament was eventually won by Australia who won all 11 of their matches, beating India in the final played at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. This was Australia’s third World Cup win, the only team to do so. Pakistani player Shoaib Akhtar also set a world record, becoming the fastest bowler in the history of cricket, delivering a record top speed of 161.3 km/h (100.23 mph) in a pool match against England.

Australian Captain Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting was captain of the Australian team between 2004 and 2011 in Test cricket and 2002 and 2011 in One Day Internationals (ODIs). He is the most successful captain in international cricket history, with 220 victories in 324 matches with a winning rate of 67.91%. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest batsmen of all time and in 2006 reached the highest rating achieved by a Test batsman for 50 years. He stands third in the list of cricketers by number of international centuries scored.

He led Australia to consecutive ICC Champions Trophy victory in 2006 and 2009. Combative and at times a controversial captain, statistically he is one of the most successful Test captains of all time, with 48 victories in 77 Tests between 2004 and 2010. As a player, Ponting is the only cricketer in history to be involved in 100 Test victories and was involved in the most ODI victories as a player, with 262 wins, having played in over 160 Tests and 370 ODIs.

A prolific batter, Ponting is Australia’s leading run-scorer in Test and ODI cricket. He was named “Cricketer of the Decade 2000” and was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. Ponting announced his retirement from Test cricket in 2012, the day before playing in his final Test against South Africa; this was his 168th and last Test appearance, equalling the Australian record held by Steve Waugh. He retired with a Test batting average of 51.85.

1996 Cricket World Cup

A Tamil Tiger bombing in Colombo coupled with death threats to some members of the team forced Australia to forfeit their scheduled 1996 Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Ponting batted in the number three position for the entire tournament, and scored six in Australia’s opening match victory over Kenya. He scored 12 and 33 against India and Zimbabwe, before becoming the youngest batsman to score a World Cup century, when he scored 102 runs from 112 balls against the West Indies in Jaipur.

Ponting wore a cap instead of a helmet to show the West Indians that he did not fear them. The effort was not enough, as Australia lost by four wickets. Australia finished second in their group and faced New Zealand in the quarter-finals. Australia appeared to be heading out of the tournament when the Caribbean team reached 2/165, but a sudden collapse saw Australia win by six runs in the last over. Ponting scored 45 from 73 balls in the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, which Australia lost to Sri Lanka. Ponting ended his first World Cup campaign with 229 runs at 32.71.

1999 Cricket World Cup

Australia started their 1999 World Cup campaign in England with success against minnows Scotland, before defeats by Pakistan and New Zealand. Ponting scored, 33, 47 and 49 respectively. After the twin defeats, Australia defeated Bangladesh with 30 overs to spare, as Ponting batted out of his usual number three spot for the only time in the tournament.

In an attempt to increase the runrate with pinch hitter Brendon Julian, Ponting scored an unbeaten 18 from 10 balls at number four. Ponting scored 20, 23 and 36 in the following matches against the West Indies, India and Zimbabwe. In the last match of the Super Six stage of the tournament, Australia were to play South Africa in a match they needed to win to make the semi-finals. South Africa batted first and scored 271, before Australia slumped to 3/48. Steve Waugh joined Ponting in the middle and scored 22 runs in ten overs.

They were involved in a 126-run stand until Ponting fell for 69 scored in 110 balls, including five fours and two sixes. Waugh went on to make 120 off 110 deliveries helping Australia win with two balls to spare. The sides met again in their next match, this time in the semi-final at Edgbaston. Australia only managed 213, with Ponting contributing a solid 37 from 48 balls. In reply, South Africa started strongly talking 45 from the first nine overs without the loss of a wicket.

However, Shane Warne dismissed Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten before long and eventually took 4/29 from 10 overs. The last over started with the Africans needing nine runs with one wicket in hand. Lower-order hitter, Lance Klusener, proceeded to score eight runs in the next two balls. Drama followed, as Donald was run-out two balls later, resulting in a tie.

Australia qualified for the final as they finished higher on the Super Six table. They comfortably accounted for Pakistan in the final, winning by eight wickets, after they were set a target of 132. Ponting scored 24 in Australia’s first World Cup win since 1987. He ended the tournament with 354 runs at 39.33.

Ponting was overlooked the ODI vice-captaincy, with Gilchrist given the role; however, Ponting captained a Northern Territory XI against the West Indies in the lead-up to the upcoming series. Though not known for extravagant claims, Steve Waugh told a journalist that Ponting could easily be the best batsman in the world, and put him alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

When Jamie Cox was selected for Australia A, Ponting was selected as captain of Tasmania for a domestic one-day match against Victoria. His men won by nine wickets, with Ponting scoring an unbeaten 64 from 69 balls. Australia white-washed the West Indies 5 - 0 in the Test series; Ponting scored a modest 242 runs at 40.33, with a high score of 92.

First World Cup success as Captain

Australia went into their opening match with little choice over their line-up, and Symonds having to play. However, Symonds repaid Ponting’s faith with an unbeaten 140 after Australia lost three quick wickets to be in early trouble. Australia beat Pakistan, and gained further momentum by defeating India by nine wickets in less than half their allotted overs in the next match. Ponting performed solidly with 53 against Pakistan and 24 not out, hitting the winning runs to guide Australia home.

He began the Super Six stage with a massive 114 against Sri Lanka. This innings included 4 sixes and he was very aggressive. He failed in the rest of the Super Six stage and the semi-final against the same opposition (Sri Lanka). In the Final, they met India, who they had crushed in the group stage. Indian captain Sourav Ganguly controversially sent the Australians in to bat, citing cloud cover, but Ponting’s batsmen attacked immediately and put the Indian bowlers under pressure.

They went on to score 359 for 2 wickets, a record for a world cup final by over 100 runs. Ponting top-scored with a brilliant 140 not out from 121 balls. India’s batsmen could not cope with the target, and were defeated by a record (for World Cup Final matches) 125 runs. Ponting led his team to a dominant, undefeated, performance in the 2003 Cricket World Cup, winning all 11 of their matches.

2003 World Cup teams

Fourteen teams played in the 2003 World Cup, the largest number of teams to play in a Cricket World Cup at the time. The 10 Test playing nations automatically qualified for the tournament including the recently appointed member Bangladesh, while Kenya also qualified automatically due to their full One Day International status.

The other three spots were filled by the top three teams in the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada, which served as a qualifying tournament. These teams were, respectively, the Netherlands who won the ICC Trophy, Canada and Namibia. This was Namibia’s World Cup debut, while the Netherlands and Canada were both appearing in the tournament for the second time, having previously appeared in 1996 and 1979 respectively.

The format used in the 1999 World Cup was retained, with the 14 teams divided into two groups of seven, and the top three from each group qualifying for the Super Sixes stage, carrying forward the results they had achieved against other qualifiers from their group. The top four teams in the Super Sixes qualified for the semi-finals, and the winners of those matches contested the final.

2003 World Cup Semi Finals

The first semi-final was played between Australia and Sri Lanka. On a difficult, slow pitch at Port Elizabeth, Australia struggled their way to 212 (7 wickets, 50 overs) against tight Sri Lankan bowling, thanks mainly to a great innings from Andrew Symonds (91 not out from 118 balls with 7 fours and a six). Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas, continuing his excellent tournament, took three wickets.

Australia’s pace attack then ripped through the Sri Lankan top order, with Brett Lee (3/35 in 8 overs) and Glenn McGrath (1/20 in 7 overs) taking honours. By the time rain arrived in the 39th over, continued tight bowling had squeezed Sri Lanka to 123 (7 wickets, 38.1 overs), well behind the target given by the Duckworth–Lewis method. This is the match in which Adam Gilchrist famously “walked” despite being given not out.

The second semi-final was played between India and Kenya. The fairy-tale ended for the Kenyan team, the only non-Test-playing nation to ever make a World Cup semi-final. Sachin Tendulkar (83 from 101 balls with 5 fours and a six) and Sourav Ganguly (111 from 114 balls with 5 fours and 5 sixes), batted the Kenyans out of the game as India raised a total of 270 (4 wickets, 50 overs).

Under the Durban lights, the potent Indian seam attack of Zaheer Khan (3/14 in 9.2 overs), the experienced Javagal Srinath (1/11 in 7 overs) and Ashish Nehra (2/11 in 5 overs) careered through the Kenyan top order. Kenya were bowled out for 179 (46.2 overs), with only Steve Tikolo (56 from 83 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes) putting up any significant resistance.

2003 World Cup Final

India won the toss, and Ganguly, elected to field, hoping to take advantage of a pitch left damp by dew and rain. On a lively Wanderers Stadium pitch, the Australian openers took advantage of very wayward Indian opening bowlers to get off to a flying start. Adam Gilchrist (57 from 48 balls with 8 fours and a six) and Matthew Hayden (37 from 54 balls with 5 fours) shared an opening partnership of 105 runs in 14 overs, forcing Ganguly to bring on the spinners unusually early.

The change of pace brought wickets with Adam Gilchrist, who had been swinging at everything, holing out off a sweep shot from the bowling of Harbhajan Singh. Matthew Hayden, looking somewhat better than he had throughout the tournament, soon followed for 37, leaving Australia at 2/125 Captain Ricky Ponting (140 from 121 balls with 4 fours and 8 sixes) and Damien Martyn (88 from 84 balls with 7 fours and a six) completing a partnership of 234 runs in 30.1 overs, an Australian record for one-day cricket.

Ponting and Martyn started efficiently, putting away bad balls but mostly keeping the scoring going with good running, then letting loose in the last ten overs, taking 109 from them. Ponting in particular dispatched the bowling over the fence with fearsome regularity in scoring 8 sixes, the most from one batsman in any World Cup match at the time. The final Australian total of 359 (2 wickets, 50 overs), at a run rate of 7.18 runs an over, was their then highest ever in ODI history.

India’s run chase was made even more difficult after their best batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, was out in the first over after skying a pull shot, Glenn McGrath completing the caught and bowled. Nevertheless, Virender Sehwag’s (82 from 81 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes) run-a-ball half century gave India respectability as they maintained a high scoring rate. Their only realistic hope, a washout looked a possibility as the game was interrupted by rain with India at 3/103 after 17 overs.

However, this rain passed by, and India’s hopes were dashed when Vireder Sehwag was run out by Darren Lehmann, and again when Rahul Dravid (47 from 57 balls with 2 fours) was bowled by Andy Bichel, ending their partnership of 88 runs in 13.2 overs. India’s batsmen continued to throw wickets away in the chase as the run rate crept up past 7 an over, and they were finally bowled out for 234 (39.2 overs) at a run rate of 5.97 runs an over giving Australia an emphatic victory by a record margin of 125 runs, underlining their dominance of the tournament.

2003 World Cup Outstanding Performers

Australian Captain, Ricky Ponting was named “Man of the Match,” and Sachin Tendulkar of India was named “Player of the Series.”Sachin Tendulkar (India) was the top scorer with 673 runs. He was followed by Sourav Ganguly (India) with 465 runs, Ricky Ponting (Australia) with 415 runs and Adam Gilchrist (Australia) with 408 runs.

The leading wicket taker was Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka) with 23 wickets. Brett Lee (Australia) took 22 wickets whilst Glenn McGrath (Australia) took 21 and Zaheer Khan managed 18.

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