A World Cup that started with ignominy to India and Pakistan, the Murder of Bob Woolmer ended in a truly farcical final in its final moments! ICC is turning out to be an absolutely incompetent body and it would have been better if things there could have been smoothened.. and soon! The way the Indian team is going it wont be long before the Indian spectators lose complete interest in the game… and once that happens.. believe me that will be the end of money in the game!
The rains came down, the umpires dithered through it, holding little conferences while both sides seemed keen to get on with it; they finally whistled the players off just when the rain was stopping, had another conference, brought the players back on. it was all a bit of a mess. And it got worse when Jayawardene pointed out to the umpires that no one had told them what the revised target was.
It turned out that two overs had been lopped off the allocation; the target was revised to 269. More prosaically, Sri Lanka needed 113 runs in 62 deliveries – and it was getting murkier. In an attempt to do something about it, Jayawardene walked across his stumps, aiming for the unprotected fine leg; Watson’s fullish length delivery did just enough off the seam to beat the flick and crash into the pad, nailing the Lankan captain in front (19/19; 156/4).
Dilshan and Chamara Silva fought on, hitting some crisp shots, and running for pretty much everything. One short single too many, though, did for Dilshan – attempting to work a ball onto the off side, he got the ball off the edge towards third man instead. Clarke was lightning quick, running across to field; Dilshan, just as slow, getting into the run after being tangled up on the back foot on that shot. The throw found McGrath perfectly positioned to take the bails off (14/13; 188/5).
The asking rate by then had ballooned to 13.5; the light had faded to near-zero visibility (the light was actually offered to the batsmen, who refused); there was nothing left but to slog. Silva tried, coming down the track to give Clarke the heave-ho; like Jayasuriya, he missed with the flail, playing all over a ball that kept on the low side (21/22; 190/6).
McGrath – bowling the last few deliveries of a brilliant career — then produced a waist high full toss that Russel Arnold, who has announced his retirement after this game, didn’t even see; his blind wave caught a portion of the bat and ballooned up; Gilchrist came racing up, then dived headlong to seal his day with a great catch (1/2; 194/7).
Insanity then got compounded – while the local broadcasters were busy showing ads, the umpires offered light to the batsmen; they took it, despite Malinga, just a couple of balls earlier, having whacked a six high over long on. The Australians began celebrating; the umpires reminded them that the game is not officially over yet. Meanwhile, the ICC officials began bringing out the podium, for the presentation, and the umpires furiously waved them away.
"Congrats Australia", said the scoreboard; Ponting pointed at it and Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor shook heads, shrugged shoulders, pointed to watches. it was all bizarre, and a very sad way for a world-level tournament to be run.
Incredibly, Aleem Dar then suggested that the two teams had to continue the game tomorrow – with just three overs left! Jayawardene had to come out, chat with Ponting and then the two captains went up to the umpires to, seemingly, politely suggest that they were batty.
The umpires abruptly decided to call the players back on and let the game continue – only to discover that some officious chappie had meanwhile removed the discs marking the 30-yard circle; so there was a further wait while that had to be attended to.
If the ICC had gone out of its way to prove that its arrogance is only matched by its incompetence, they accomplished that feat very nicely. And to rub it all in, play resumed in near total darkness. Malinga ran out at Symonds and had a swing, missed, and was stumped (10/5; 211/8).
We were then treated to cricket as comic movie: you know the ones where they speed up the action? Like that: everyone ran about like crazy trying to finish off the game, for fear that Dar would ask them to come back out tomorrow.
The Sri Lankans cooperated, patting the ball back to the bowler so no one would have to go running around to fetch it. And when the farce finally ended, Australia had sealed the win – it’s 29th straight win at this level — and an unprecedented a third successive World Cup, by the comfortable margin of 53 runs, per Duckworth Lewis.
In the dark of the night, the crowds strained for one last glimpse of Glenn McGrath – the champion who has been with this team through four successive campaigns, three of them successful, as he finally walked off a cricket field for the last time.
Somehow, on such a momentous day, you expected trumpets, heralds, guards of honor – not the unbelievable farce the ICC officials, on and off the field, turned it into.
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