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Australia won the seventh World Cup with such single-minded ruthlessness that even an eight-wicket victory failed to do them justice. Pakistan, the most exciting team in the tournament, were totally outplayed and outwitted at the crucial moment. There were barely four and a half hours of cricket, most of it one-sided. For all but the most fervent Australian, it was not a pretty sight.
It was a sight, though, spared many Pakistanis by a controversial ticketing policy. This favoured not the fans of the competing teams but those who had ostensibly proved their loyalty to the game - and the depth of their pocket - by buying a package of tickets long before. So Lord's was awash with disinterested observers, while from outside came the klaxon, whistle and bugle of fanatical Pakistan support. About a hundred fans clambered up a building site overlooking the ground. As the police moved in, a game of cat and mouse ensued, providing an alternative spectacle for the Grand Stand opposite. Eventually, the fans, like their team, were unceremoniously bundled out of St John's Wood.
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 Fleming struggled for consistency. For Pakistan, this was as good as it got. Next over, Wajahatullah Wasti followed a ball from McGrath that bounced and left him. Mark Waugh, at second slip, flew to his right and clung on with both hands. It set the tone for the match.
After Anwar had played on, Abdur Razzaq and Ijaz Ahmed briefly looked more at home. Razzaq benefited from Australia's one false move - McGrath dropped a comfortable catch at long-off - but minutes later was smartly caught by Steve Waugh, lunging forward at extra cover. With Pakistan faltering at 69 for three after 21 overs, Waugh brought on Warne. It was, literally, the turning point of the match.
Warne produced an astounding delivery to dismiss Ijaz, who had hung around doggedly for 22. The ball pitched on or just outside leg and hit off. It was not quite the famous Gatting ball, nor even the one that dismissed Gibbs in the semi-final, but it sent shockwaves through the lower order. Pakistan tried to get out of trouble with all guns blazing. But for every ball that ricocheted off the boards, another landed in Australian hands. Luck was against them, too: a ball from Reiffel clipped Inzamam's pad on its way to Gilchrist. The Australians went up in appeal; umpire Shepherd's finger in judgment. An incredulous Inzamam plodded off at funereal pace. When Wasim holed out, Warne had claimed four wickets for the second game running, taking his tally to 20, a World Cup record shared with Geoff Allott of New Zealand. McGrath brought the innings to a swift end when Ponting held a superlative catch at third slip in the 39th over. The target was just 133.
Wasim later claimed he could have defended 180 but the way Gilchrist began, 300 would have been within reach. Shoaib Akhtar was desperately unlucky when his first ball was edged by Gilchrist and fell agonisingly short of long leg. Thereafter, boundaries came thick, fast and off the middle of the bat. Gilchrist's fifty took 33 balls. When he fell to the first ball of the 11th over, the broadcasters felt the end was close enough to remove the stump cameras.
In fact, it took another ten overs, in which time Mark Waugh passed 1,000 World Cup runs. Australia needed a mere 121 balls to win, and the game was over at 4.32 p.m. - despite a heavy shower which had delayed the start by half an hour and a half-hearted pitch invasion moments after an announcement in Urdu had requested restraint. This, the 200th World Cup match, spanned less than 60 overs. The people who reportedly paid touts £5,000 for a pair of £100 tickets might have felt short-changed. Or maybe not: they were Australians.
Man of the Match: S. K. Warne. Man of the Tournament: L. Klusener. Attendance: 27,835.
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