71 victims overall

Glenn McGrath was 37 when the 2007 World Cup came around, and that is no age for a fast bowler to be bothering batsmen. McGrath did not have great pace and it was obvious where he was going to bowl but he still left batsmen clueless.

In the semifinal, he broke the spine of South Africa’s batting with a spell of three for 18 from eight overs. He was on song in the Super Eights, taking three each against West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, and England and two each against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. In the final, he bowled seven niggardly overs for 31 runs and dismissed Russell Arnold to finish with 26 wickets, the most by any bowler in one edition of the tournament. McGrath also became the World Cup’s leading wicket-taker, with 71 victims from 39 games.

The only active players occupying a place of any significance on that list are Lasith Malinga (31 wickets) and Shahid Afridi (28). In 2015, both will almost invariably be playing their last World Cups. McGrath’s record is unlikely to be threatened for a long, long time.

Gilchrist batters Sri Lanka

Adam Gilchrist played one of the great one-day knocks in the final, caning a 104-ball-149. Chaminda Vaas went for 54 from his eight overs, Lasith Malinga 49, Dilhara Fernando 74, Muttiah Muralitharan 44 from seven, Tillakaratne Dilshan 23 from two, and Sanath Jayasuriya 33 from five. No bowler was spared and Sri Lanka was left gasping as Australia romped to a total of 281 in 38 overs. It was clear that Sri Lanka was going to need a superhuman effort to take Australia down after this.

Gilchrist’s effort at the Kensington Oval, produced with a squash ball in his glove, included 13 fours and eight sixes. It was an awesome exhibition of hitting, an innings to be marvelled at anywhere, let alone in a World Cup final. It placed Gilchrist in an elite group, alongside Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Aravinda de Silva, Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardene.

Jayawardena’s master-class

At 152 for four in the semifinals, Sri Lanka was at a crossroads against New Zealand at Sabina Park. Mahela Jayawardena, though, constructed one of the greatest hundreds under pressure, an innings of poise, character and class. He started slowly, taking 76 balls to get to his 50, hitting only three fours. The next 50 runs came in 28 balls, with six more fours and two sixes, as Jayawardena exploded, albeit gracefully. His ton took Sri Lanka to 289, a total that was always beyond New Zealand.

Ireland causes a major upset

In what must rank as one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history, Ireland stunned Pakistan, defeating it by three wickets. Boyd Rankin took three for 32, while Andre Botha and Kyle McCallan returned combined figures of four for 17 from 13.4 overs as Pakistan was bowled out for 132. In response, the Irish fell to 15 for two, but Niall O’Brien made a tenacious 72 to see his side home.

Brian Lara’s farewell match

Brian Lara bid farewell to international cricket before a full house in Barbados. The Super Eight game may have ended in defeat for West Indies but it was a thrilling contest. Chasing 301 for victory, England won with one ball to spare and one wicket in hand.

Lara may have only made 18 before he was run out by Kevin Pietersen, but his contribution to West Indies cricket was not forgotten. “Did I entertain?” he asked the crowd at the presentation ceremony. The answer was obvious.

Shreedutta Chidananda