2003 World Cup: Ricky Ponting's calculated 'final' assault!

Ricky Ponting’s unbeaten 140 left India demoralised and the target of 360 proved all the more tough once Glenn McGrath removed Sachin Tendulkar in the first over of the 2003 World Cup final.

Ricky Ponting lifts a six off Javagal Srinath in the 2003 World Cup final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.   -  V. V. Krishnan

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting’s classic century in the 2003 World Cup final was as good as those by Clive Lloyd (1975), Viv Richards (1979), Kapil Dev (1983) and Aravinda de Silva (1996). True, there were other knocks too, but these left a huge impression on cricket fans across teams.

India was a favourite in 2003 even though it had been whipped by Australia in the league phase. The final was a different platform altogether. Nerves and skills were to play a major part and Australia made the most of a brilliant start by Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.

Ponting walked in at 105 for one and saw Hayden depart 20 runs later. With a new batsman at the crease in Damien Martyn, the responsibility was shared brilliantly by the Australians. Ponting did not mind playing second fiddle, taking his time to settle down and then flogging the Indian bowlers with some clinical hitting.

RELATED | 2003 World Cup: Ricky Ponting’s pot of gold

Ponting was helped when Harbhajan Singh was surprisingly taken off the attack and when the off-spinner returned, he greeted him with back-to-back sixes. And the torrent of runs began from that decisive over as Ponting simply exploded. His first 50 came off 74 balls and the next off a mere 29 as he smashed five sixes and one four.

The Indians made the mistake of bowling to his strength as Ponting plundered another 40 runs off 35 balls to put the match firmly in Australia's grasp. His unbeaten 140 left India demoralised and the target of 360 proved all the more tough once Glenn McGrath removed Sachin Tendulkar in the first over. Australia owed it to Ponting’s leadership for this memorable triumph!