Build-up to final not ideal - Ponting
Instead of taking confidence into the deciders Australia enter the finals on the back of a 13-run defeat and with their retiring star Adam Gilchrist feeling "like a bit of a goose".
Australia wanted to approach Sunday's first final against India with winning momentum and they sought some practice chasing, after a series in which they have nearly always batted first. They got one of their wishes at the MCG but instead of taking confidence into the deciders they enter on the back of a 13-run defeat and with their retiring star Adam Gilchrist feeling "like a bit of a goose".
"A loss tonight, it's not an ideal lead-in," said Ricky Ponting, the captain. "But all of our guys at different times through the series have shown that they're in pretty good form. It's a matter of us getting five or six guys in the one game to prove that.
"Right through the summer we've had two or three outstanding performances in one game and that has been enough to get us across the line. We're going to need more than that on Sunday to beat India. They're playing some good cricket at the moment so we're going to have to play probably as well as we have right through the summer if we want to win on Sunday."
The only other time Australia have batted second was in the series-opening wash-out against India, but did not get a full chase there and were struggling at 3 for 51 when the rain came. Ponting said he was even considering sending Sri Lanka in had he won the toss, to get some practice.
"It would have been good tonight if we had been able to get across the line in a run-chase situation," he said. "But I'm not that concerned with it because a lot of our guys have played a lot of cricket and know what it takes to chase scores. Over the years I think we've probably been as good as anyone at chasing big totals."
For a while it seemed they would reach their target of 222 comfortably, when Gilchrist was thrilling the MCG with a boundary-filled 83 from 50 balls in his last match at the venue. They were 0 for 107 in the 15th over but the momentum changed significantly when his opening partner James Hopes fell and then Gilchrist holed out six balls later.
"I feel like a bit of a goose, actually," Gilchrist said. "I gave a pretty good lesson on how to throw a game away, because that wicket has nagged batsmen all summer. In any form of the game that's been played here, batsmen haven't looked comfortable, haven't dominated at all.
"I had the game by the scruff of the neck so that's pretty disappointing. It's a nice reminder, even at the end of your career, you've still got to respect the game and respect the position that you're in. It was a disappointing end."
Given that self-assessment his Man-of-the-Match award meant little, and a chastened Gilchrist will enter the finals knowing a happier farewell to Australian cricket will require a more considered approach. "A bit clearer thinking once Hopesy [Hopes] got out would have been better," he said. "We've always tried to pride ourselves on, once you lose one wicket just be a bit more alert to try and consolidate a little partnership with the new player. It was the next over, so I just needed to be a bit sharper there."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo