2007: A Cup to forget

first_imgA one-eyed fan of Australian cricket may remember the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean as a memorable event in which the men from Down Under became champions for the third successive time, their fourth triumph in all. For most of others though, it was a World Cup they would much rather forget.Bob WoolmerThe spectre of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer’s death will always be linked to the event, which failed to portray the colourful Caribbean cricket ethos.The blame for the insipid 16-team tournament should also lie with its long duration ( a month and a half) and the format (a Super Eight stage after the group matches). Also the fact that India and Pakistan, two of the biggest draws of the tournament, were knocked out after the pool games did not help matters.The over-priced tickets, faraway stadiums and stringent measures that stifled most of the traditional West Indian exuberance also played spoilsport.Add to that, the near farcical end of the championship with the final finishing in darkness.On the field, the biggest positive memory for cricket fans will be Adam Gilchrist’s squash ballaided hurricane 149 off just 104 balls to destroy any plans that the Sri Lankans had in the final.His opening partner, Matthew Hayden was the standout batsman of the tournament as he smashed 659 runs with three hundreds, including a 66- ball ton against South Africa – the fastest in World Cup history.The legendary Glenn McGrath ended his international career by claiming 26 wickets and being adjudged the player of the tournament.advertisementAmong other standout performances were Lasith Malinga, claiming four wickets in four balls, almost fashioning a miracle victory against South Africa, and Herschelle Gibbs smashing the hapless Dutch bowler Dan van Bunge for six sixes in an over.Australia had entered the World Cup on the back of five straight defeats, but as the tournament entered its business end, it became clear that it would be a major upset if Ricky Ponting’s men did not take the trophy.As it turned out, they did not have a close game in the competition and their unbeaten streak at the World Cup now stands at 29 matches. Brian Lara, in what was to be his swansong, failed to lift the hosts enough as they were ousted in the Super Eights. Off the field, England all- rounder Andrew Flintoff made news for all the wrong reasons when he capsized a pedalo after a defeat to New Zealand.It was the first World Cup which featured powerplays but most matches failed to provide any powerful performances.Bangladesh and Ireland made it to the Super Eights at the expense of India and Pakistan, which meant there were few close games.Sri Lanka thrashed the Kiwis in the first semi- final by 81 runs on the back of a hundred by captain Mahela Jayawardene and four wickets taken by Muttiah Muralitharan. There was great anticipation ahead of the Australia vs South Africa semifinal.But it proved to be a nocontest as the Proteas were reduced to 27 for five and the target of 150 was never going to challenge the Aussies.The final was a 38- overs- aside affair to start with due to early rain. Gilchrist had a look at the bowling for a couple of overs before launching his assault, which left Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga shell- shocked.Hayden, who had been the most dominant batsman of the competition, was made to look sluggish as the openers put on 172. Gilchrist smashed 13 fours and eight sixes and the final score of 281 for four seemed a mammoth target for the Lankans.After the early loss of Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara kept the fight going with a 116- run stand. But the rapidly rising asking rate took its toll and Sri Lanka were behind the eightball when play had to be stopped twice for rain and bad light.The Lankans had batted way more than the 20 overs that constitute a game, but the match officials decreed that 36 overs had to be completed to get a result. So the players had to return to complete the farce in utter darkness, ruining the Aussies’ victory celebrations.If that left a bitter taste in the mouth, it was nothing compared to tragedy involving Woolmer. The Pakistan coach was found dead in his hotel room in Kingston, hours after his team had been sent packing by the Irish. All kinds of conspiracy theories – matchfixing, murder, unrest in the team – did the rounds in the days that followed and even the Pakistan players were not considered beyond suspicion.advertisementA police inquiry later concluded that Woolmer died of natural causes, but that has not put all the questions to rest.Indian AngleAll was not well within the Rahul Dravid- led Indian team.Friction between coach Greg Chappell and several senior players meant the team was not at ease.The upset at the hands of Bangladesh in the opener put the players under immense pressure and though they thrashed minnows Bermuda, a loss to Sri Lanka resulted in the premature exit of one of the pre- tournament favourites.Legendary spinner Anil Kumble must have hoped for a better farewell from One-day cricket.Highlights of 2007The then coach of Pakistan team Bob Woolmer died under mysterious circumstances soon after the team’s loss to Ireland in the league stage.Matthew Hayden was the highest run getter in the tournament with 659 runs which included a 66- ball century against South Africa.In the 38- over- a- side final against Sri Lanka, Adam Gilchrist struck a 104- ball 149 as Australia won their third successive World Cup trophy.Herschelle Gibbs hit Dutch bowler Dan van Bunge for six sixes in an over and the South African remains the only player to achieve the feat in One- day Internationals so far.last_img

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