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April 28, 2007
In 30 previous World Cup innings, Adam Gilchrist had never reached the three-figure mark - his highest had been 99, against the Sri Lankans in 2003. It seemed the run-out on that occasion would deny him the landmark forever, but in what will almost certainly be his final World Cup innings, Gilchrist conjured up his best display. By the time he was done, he had made the fifth century - and the highest score - in a World Cup final, and had put Australia firmly on the road to a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs.
There was plenty of discussion over Ricky Ponting's decision to bat first after winning the toss in conditions which were likely to favour the fast bowlers, but Gilchrist made all that talk redundant with an astonishing display of attacking batsmanship. On a true pitch, Gilchrist needed precisely six balls to gauge the pace and bounce, before hitting Vaas for two fours and a six in a six-ball period which set the trend. In his first 24 deliveries he scored at a run a ball, before really turning it on. Once he got into his stride, none of the Sri Lankan bowlers had much clue about how to stop him.
|Runs||Dot balls||4s/ 6s|
|First 24 balls||24||13||2/ 1|
|Next 80 balls||125||30||11/ 6|
|Bowler||Balls||Runs||4s/ 6s||Scoring rate|
|Muttiah Muralitharan||23||23||0/ 1||100.00|
|Lasith Malinga||17||19||3/ 0||111.76|
|Chaminda Vaas||25||30||4/ 1||120.00|
|Dilhara Fernando||23||42||5/ 2||182.60|
|Tillakaratne Dilshan||7||15||0/ 2||214.28|
|Sanath Jayasuriya||9||20||1/ 2||222.22|
It was a typical Gilchrist innings in terms of his scoring rate, but not in terms of the strokes he played or the areas in which he scored. Usually very strong square of the wicket on the off side, he scored 65 of his 149 runs in the V between mid-off and mid-on. In contrast, he scored just 13 in the arc from cover to third man.
On a pitch on which the ball was coming on to the bat, Gilchrist's front-foot drives were particularly lethal and fetched him 63 runs, including six fours and five sixes. And when Muttiah Muralitharan came into the attack, Gilchrist employed the sweep to counter the fact that he couldn't read the spin out of the hand.
|Front-foot drives||40||63||6/ 5|
|Flick/ pull||34||57||6/ 2|
|Cut/ back-foot strokes||21||15||1/ 0|
The Sri Lankans were completely outclassed in the field, but the start didn't suggest such a rout was on the cards. Lasith Malinga hadn't played against the Australians in the Super Eights, and that move probably saved the Sri Lankans about 20 runs, as the Australian openers gave themselves some time to figure him out. His first four overs went for six; his next four leaked 43. The Sri Lankans allowed only 46 in the first ten overs, and 118 in the last 16, but they lost the game in the 12 overs in between, as Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden blasted 117 at nearly ten per over. That was also the period when Gilchrist took the majority of the strike, and in the mood he was in, it was simply impossible to stop him.
|Period||Gilchrist - Balls||Runs||Hayden - Balls||Runs|
|First 10 overs (46 runs)||30||31||31||14|
|Next 12.5 overs (126 runs)||53||88||25||24|
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