Ponting leads World XI to victory
ICC World XI 8 for 344 (Ponting 115, Cairns 69, Lara 52, Muralitharan 3-59) beat ACC Asian XI 232 (Dravid 75, Sehwag 45, Vettori 3-58) by 112 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A showcase of the world's best players could not produce a gripping finish, but Ricky Ponting led the list of memorable performances in tribute to the more than 150,000 victims of the Boxing-Day tsunami. The match's end was less important than the means - more than Au$14.6million was raised by stumps - as the World XI recorded a convincing victory over an Asia XI carrying tales of loved ones' deaths and near misses.
Every run in the World Cricket Tsunami Appeal was worth $1000 and Ponting confirmed his reputation for big-occasion batting with a superb hundred that tallied $115,000. In an order sparkling in every position, Ponting was the captain and king as his one-off team produced an almost unbelievable display of hard-hitting followed by an efficient defence with the ball.
Facing a massive total and an A-list attack offering few easy runs, the Asia XI were in an early rush but any realistic hope ended when Yousuf Youhana gave Shane Warne his second wicket (4 for 114). Needing almost seven an over throughout the innings, the openers hurried to stay in sight of the target, but the middle order, with the exception of Rahul Dravid who was unbeaten on 75, failed to match the pace.
Virender Sehwag and Sanath Jayasuriya are willing to flay at most deliveries and armed with impatience they buzzed they like the flies around their helmets. Sehwag went down the pitch to Glenn McGrath; Jayasuriya charged at Darren Gough, England's sole representative, and both had successes.
A Sehwag six over mid-on helped them to 15 off Gough's fourth over and he was quickly replaced by Chris Cairns. Trying to mirror his partner's treatment, Jayasuriya was deceived by a Cairns slower ball and Stephen Fleming made up for the earlier miss of Sehwag at first slip. (1 for 59)
Warne, who stood at second slip, took his bowling cap for the first time in an ODI since dislocating his shoulder at the MCG in 2002 and received a huge welcome from his home crowd. Like Cairns in New Zealand, Warne has been missed after retiring from limited-overs games early in 2003, and he showed his worth in his first over when he prompted a heave from Sehwag that Chris Gayle collected inside the square-leg boundary. (2 for 76)
Sehwag's danger had passed for 45 and the world was breathing more comfortably when Sourav Ganguly, the captain, drove to Gough at mid-off, Warne took care of Youhana and Kumar Sangakkara edged Gough to Adam Gilchrist. (5 for 156) Daniel Vettori finished with three wickets in a fine spell in exalted company after racing to 27 off 17 balls at the close of the World XI innings.
Two years ago Ponting launched a fierce assault on India with an unbeaten 140 in the World Cup final, and his attack today was also extreme as he ticked off eight fours and three sixes. After a first-ball scare from Zaheer Khan, Ponting smacked crisp drives and pulls as he adopted an aggressive mood that was copied by his all-conquering teammates. Ponting was not the only one to explode and was joined on the big-hitting list by Chris Cairns, who hulked 69 off 47 balls, while Brian Lara chipped in with a half-century that was initially scratchy.
Sharing 122 with Lara, Ponting thrashed 91 for the fourth wicket with Cairns in 8.5 overs to accelerate an already speedy innings. Abdul Razzaq was taken for 20 in the 36th over and Anil Kumble was planted for three sixes in the 39th - each worth a bonus A$50,000 in sponsorship contributions - before Ponting was stumped by Sangakkara (4 for 263), who collected five dismissals.
Cairns continued thumping, finishing with two mammoth sixes and six fours in a clever display, until he was stumped chasing another boundary from Muttiah Muralitharan. (6 for 286) Muralitharan, playing his first match since suffering a serious shoulder injury, has done a large amount of aid work in Sri Lanka since the tsunami and was rewarded with turn and three wickets.
Flags from across the globe waved in the stands as the crowd reached 70,101, and organisers passed their pre-match target of A$10 million for World Vision by the 36th over. Despite the seriousness of the occasion there was still room for smiles and guest fielding appearances from Sachin Tendulkar, who has an injured left elbow, and Steve Waugh, the World XI coach. However, the status of the match as a full one-day international was devalued by Glenn McGrath's entry at No. 6, despite the crowd's appreciation, and he went first ball top-edging a slog-sweep off Muralitharan. (5 for 264)
Ponting won the toss and Gilchrist and Gayle opened, but Zaheer brushed Gayle's edge in the second over and Sangakkara accepted the easy catch. (1 for 1) Joined by Ponting, Gilchrist moved quickly, but became Zaheer's second wicket when he tried to slog him to midwicket. (2 for 50) As Gilchrist walked off Lara replaced him on a day for the biggest of the game's superstars, and a flurry of valuable donations.
Peter English is Australasian editor of Cricinfo