Shane Warne's 4 for 29 against South Africa in the semi-final had almost single-handedly dragged Australia from the cusp of a World Cup exit to their second successive final. On the last day of the tournament, Pakistan, one of the most exciting teams of the tournament, were decimated by Australia's single-minded ruthlessness in a match that lasted just a ball over 59 overs. At the centre of it, once again, was Warne.
On a pitch that Steve Waugh believed was good for 260 or so, Wasim Akram chose to bat. Saeed Anwar cut the third ball of the day for four and added two more boundaries in the fourth over as Damien Fleming struggled for consistency. For Pakistan, this was as good as it got. Wajahatullah Wasti fell to Glenn McGrath in the next over and it set the tone for the game.
As Pakistan faltered to 69 for 3 in 21 overs, Waugh brought on Warne, and it proved the turning point of the game. Warne produced an astounding delivery to dismiss Ijaz Ahmed, who had hung around doggedly for 22. The ball pitched on or just outside leg and hit off, and while it was not quite the Gatting ball, nor even the one that dismissed Herschelle Gibbs in the semi-final, it was enough to set off panic in the lower order.
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Pakistan tried to get themselves out of the mess by charging at the Australians but for every ball that ricocheted off the boards, another landed in Australian hands. Luck was against them too: a ball from Paul Reiffel clipped Inzamam-ul-Haq's pad on its way to Adam Gilchrist. The Australians went up in appeal; umpire David Shepherd's finger was up in judgement. An incredulous Inzamam plodded off at funereal pace.
When Wasim Akram holed out, Warne had claimed four wickets for the second game running, taking his tournament tally to 20, a shared World Cup record for the time, which was overtaken in subsequent editions. Warne's spin had reduced Pakistan to 133 and Gilchrist then bludgeoned a 36-ball 54 to set Australia on the way to the first milestone of a famous World Cup treble.
This article was first published in 2014