Australia, unbeaten in the World Cup since 1999, were playing Sri Lanka, who were looking to make their first final since 1996, in the semi-final. Adam Gilchrist had scored 329 from eight matches so far in the tournament, and along with Matthew Hayden was looking to give Australia an explosive start in Port Elizabeth.
With Chaminda Vaas bowling a tight line and length, Gilchrist picked Pulasthi Gunaratne to launch an assault against. He took him for 11 in his first over and. At the end of five overs, Australia were 34 for no loss. Sanath Jayasuriya, the Sri Lanka captain, made a bowling change and brought on Aravinda de Silva - their hero with the ball and bat in the 1996 final against Australia.
Gilchrist tried to sweep de Silva's second ball but got an edge. The ball flew off his pads and was caught by Kumar Sangakkara. Umpire Rudi Koertzen ignored the Sri Lankans' appeals, ruling that the ball had only hit the pad before popping up. Gilchrist waited to hear the verdict and then turned and walked back to the pavilion.
"This was Gilchrist's match, not for what he did with bat or gloves but for his decision to walk, which astonished everyone unused to such Australian magnanimity," said Wisden.
What happened next
Australia lost Ricky Ponting in the next over and Hayden soon after, but Andrew Symonds' unbeaten 91 took them to 212. Ultimately Gilchrist's decision to walk had no bearing on the result. Sri Lanka struggled against Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, and when rain forced the players from the field with Sri Lanka on 123 for 7 after 38.1 overs, they were short of the Duckworth-Lewis target. Australia went on to win their fourth World Cup title after a one-sided final against India.