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Gilchrist launches Australia's final against Sri Lanka with a century

Gilchrist launches Australia's final against Sri Lanka with a century

Adam Gilchrist hit the fastest and biggest ever century in a World Cup final on Saturday to put Australia in a commanding position against Sri Lanka.
The lefthander hit 149 in Australia's 281 for four off 38 overs in a rain-hit final at Kensington Oval to score his first World Cup century. He reached his century in 72 balls, 10 balls faster than Clive Lloyd hundred in the 1975 final against Australia at Lord's.
And he also passed Ricky Ponting's 140 not out against India in the 2003 final in Johannesburg.
Gilchrist, who had been below his best so far at the tournament, took to the field alongside Matthew Hayden after rain delayed the start by almost three hours and immediately set about the Sri Lanka attack.
On a true batting pitch at Kensington Oval that offered little assistance to the bowlers, Gilchrist hit a flurry of boundaries to make his team an overwhelming favorite to win and take an unprecedented third straight title.
Gilchrist came just short of matching Hayden's record fastest century set earlier in the competition, taking 72 balls to Hayden's 66.
He eventually holed out to Dilhara Fernando for 149 as he led Australia to 281-4. That would be a healthy total in any match, but this one was shortened by rain to 38 overs a side from the regulation 50.
With Gilchrist mauling the attack and scoring at more than a run a ball early on, Sri Lanka explored just about all its bowling options in the first 13 overs. Only Sanath Jayasuriya did not turn his arm.
Pace bowler Lasith Malinga sent down a tight, accurate opening spell for the second straight match. He followed his unplayable, wicket-taking burst in the 81-run semifinal win over New Zealand by allowing just six runs off four overs.
With Malinga in form, Gilchrist targeted Chaminda Vaas. With little swing about, his first three overs went for 24 runs and he was replaced by Fernando, who had been retained despite an erratic performance against New Zealand.
The hitherto untroubled openers seemed momentarily unsure, failing to catch hold of the ball and even playing and missing, but still got to 46-0 from the first 10 overs.
Fernando put down a caught-and-bowled chance when Gilchrist was on 31 and the wicketkeeper hit the next three balls for four, four and six.
Spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Tillekeratne Dilshan came on and slowed the scoring, but Gilchrist still made it to 50 off 43 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
Another huge six by Gilchrist brought up the 100 partnership, matching the total of 16 opening century stands set by India's Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.
Gilchrist reached his hundred in the 21st over with his eighth four, going along with his six 6s.
Having beaten the 82-ball hundred scored by West Indies' great Lloyd against Australia in 1975, Gilchrist was almost out to the next delivery. But the ball rolled out of wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara's glove as he hit the ground.
Sangakkara admitted the chance had not carried and Gilchrist made the most of his let off to move on to 119, when Hayden fell to Malinga to make it 172-1.
The magnitude of Gilchrist's scoring was shown by Hayden, who had bludgeoned a tournament-high 621 runs going into the match, taking 55 balls for his 38.
Ponting and Gilchrist had another let off on 132 when a slog to the boundary just dropped between two fielders racing around on the rope.
However, he wasn't so lucky next time, slogging to mid on, where Mahela Jayawardene took an easy catch.
Gilchrist had needed just 104 balls to reach 149, the third highest total of this tournament, with 13 fours and eight sixes.
He departed the field with a smile, cheered raucously by the huge Australian contingent in the 28,000-seat stadium.


Updated : 2021-10-25 11:53 GMT+08:00