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.
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.
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.
With this win, Australia extended their unbeaten run in World Cup matches to 29, and their winning streak to 23. The last time they were beaten was on May 23, 1999, when they lost to Pakistan by ten runs. (Click here for their list of World Cup results.)
This was Gilchrist's third successive fifty-plus score in a World Cup final. He had scored 54 against Pakistan at Lord's in 1999 and 57 against India at Johannesburg in 2003.
This was the 100th time that Gilchrist and Hayden were opening in ODIs, and they made it a special occasion by putting together 172, their best in ODIs, improving upon the 170 they added against South Africa at Durban in 2002. This was their 16th century stand for the first wicket, which equals the record held by Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Tendulkar and Ganguly, though, opened in 117 innings.
The stand was the highest for the first wicket in a World Cup final, obliterating the 129 that Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott added in 1979. Gilchrist and Hayden had also posted 105 for the opening wicket in the 2003 final against India, which is the only other century stand in a World Cup decider. It is also the second-highest partnership for all wickets in a World Cup final, after the 234-run stand between Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn in the 2003 edition.
Gilchrist is the fifth batsman to score a hundred in a World Cup final, after Clive Lloyd (102 in 1975), Viv Richards (138 in 1979), Aravinda de Silva (107 in 1996) and Ponting (140 in 2003). He is the fourth wicketkeeper - after Dave Houghton, Andy Flower and Rahul Dravid - to score a century in World Cups.
Gilchrist completed 9000 ODI runs and 1000 World Cup runs during the course of his 149.
Gilchrist slammed eight sixes in his knock, which equals the World Cup record for most sixes in a single innings, which is jointly held by Ponting and Imran Nazir.
Gilchrist also had a good game with the gloves, and when he snaffled Upul Tharanga, he became the first wicketkeeper to get to 50 dismissals behind the stumps.
This was the second-highest opening partnership against Sri Lanka in World Cups. The highest was by an Australian pair too - Rick McCosker and Alan Turner added 182 at The Oval in 1975. These are also Australia's two best first-wicket stands in World Cups.
Sri Lanka didn't have much to celebrate, but there was one important personal milestone for Sanath Jayasuriya - when he reached 58, he became only the second batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar, to get to 12,000 ODI runs. Jayasuriya now has 12,005 runs from 390 ODIs, at an average of 33.25.
With Kumar Sangakkara scoring 54 as well, this was a pretty good match for wicketkeepers. It was the first time in the World Cup that two keepers scored a hundred and a half-century in the same game.
Glenn McGrath finished with just one wicket, but that was enough to lift his tally in the tournament to 26, the highest by any bowler in a single World Cup.
Chaminda Vaas had a forgettable game, conceding 54 from eight overs, during the course of which he became the sixth bowler to concede more than 1000 runs in World Cups. He joins Wasim Akram, Javagal Srinath, Muralitharan, Jayasuriya and McGrath.
Ponting's run-out was the 13th instance of a captain being dismissed in such a manner in this tournament. It's a record for a single World Cup, beating the previous record of seven in 1992.