Big occasions usually demand that the big boys stand up and both Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting admitted that the vast rift in bowling experience was the deciding factor in Australia's comprehensive victory. While Australia's new-ball pairing had 378 one-day caps between them India's fast-bowling trio had a combined experience - if you want to call it that - of 99 one-dayers.
Both sets of bowlers took some time assessing the pitch: Australia conceded 36 in the first seven overs while India gave away 45. But what followed was a study in contrast. Australia's bowlers adjusted their lengths - in fact, Ponting revealed that he thought the surface would play differently - while the Indians resorted to pitching it short and facing the music.
Glenn McGrath conceded a miserly 12 runs in his first six overs while Brett Lee, despite taking some tap early on, came back admirably. Bowling at the death, not only did he dry up the scoring but also cranked up some ferocious pace to intimidate the batsmen. Slow balls and variation definitely helps at the death but sheer pace remains one of the most lethal weapons.
"One of the reasons why I gave McGrath the new ball was because he enjoys the battle with Sachin [Tendulkar]," revealed an elated Ponting at the end of the day. "I was asked about their battle yesterday and I said I thought Glenn would have his nose ahead. After today, he might have edged his nose ahead a bit."
Lee, though, couldn't sustain the pressure at the other end, leaking 27 runs in his first spell with an erratic effort. "Probably our new-ball bowling wasn't as good as we would have liked," said Ponting when asked about the areas where he'd be looking for improvement. "But I think we adjusted very well. Our overall bowling from then, I thought, was very good. We just managed to take wickets at regular intervals which didn't allow India to get away. I thought our bowling in the last six or seven overs was really great today. We didn't give any freebies away so that was really pleasing for us."
India's faster bowlers, though, were guilty of a large chunk of freebies. "They had a fairly inexperienced attack," said Ponting reflecting on one of the main differences between the two sides. "Sreesanth replaced Ajit Agarkar. Pathan goes for quite a few runs upfront because he's mainly a wicket-taking bowler. He did the same today. It gave us a chance to get off to a flying start which was crucial on that wicket. I knew it was going to spin after Symonds got it to turn. But the run-rate was so good that we didn't have to take too many risks against Harbhajan Singh."
India's new-ball problems weren't lost on Dravid but he felt it would be unfair to be too critical on the bunch. Several experts, prominently Javagal Srinath, the former fast bowler, have spoken about lack of guidance and Dravid admitted that Agarkar's absence had probably hurt the side on this track. "It probably helps to have a senior player," he continued. "Ajit was injured and being the one who's working a lot with these young kids, it was unfortunate. His experience would have helped on a wicket like this.
"I won't be too critical on this inexperienced side. They came up against a very good attack and it was a good experience for them. They've a lot of potential and we've seen that over the last few games. The Australian attack has experience and we need to give these young seamers time. Sreesanth came back well in the second spell. It's encouraging to see young bowlers with pace and fire. We're going to need that in South Africa."
On this tournament's evidence, they're going to need that and much more.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo