World Champs Australia have at last ended their Champions Trophy jinx by beating West Indies in the Final at Mumbai to win the Tournament for the first time! In a rain interrupted match, the Aussies came as the winners in a totally one-sided affair after they had skittled out defending champs West Indies for just 138. Led by an unbeaten half century from all rounder Shane Watson and a solid undefeated 47 from Damien Martyn, Australia knocked off the revised Duckworth/Lewis target of 116 from 35 overs with 41 deliveries to spare and with 8 wickets in hand.
The Man of the Match award had gone to Shane Watson for his fifth ODI half century but the real Man of the Match should have been left arm medium pacer Nathan Bracken who saved the day for the Aussies. Bracken had taken three crucial wickets with the ball to help Australia not only stop the dangerous Chanderpaul and Gayle but also to come back into the match strongly. It looked like West Indies’ day at the Brabourne Stadium after they had won the toss and decided to take first strike. Both sides had gone with one change with the Australians getting in the specialist spinner Brad Hogg for Mitchell Johnson and West Indies getting in the experienced Corey Collymore for all rounder Dwayne Smith. The start was a brilliant one from Chanderpaul and Gayle who took the bull by its horns. Brett Lee was the target as he was hit out of the attack with 36 runs coming from his three overs which included a six off a leading edge from Chanderpaul over thirdman. Aussies were in a serious spot of bother as their opposition looked good to set up a huge target to chase. But Nathan Bracken provided the much needed breakthrough which ended the carnage from Chanderpaul as he dragged one of his square cuts onto his stumps. It was a clever change of pace from Bracken who had got the ball to cut back into the left hander to dismiss him for 27 with West Indies at 49 for 1. Chanderpaul’s 27 had come in just 18 balls with 4 fours and a six.
The wicket of Chanderpaul only got Gayle to become more aggressive and even the great Glenn McGrath was taken to the cleaners. Once again Nathan Bracken provided the breakthrough, this time getting the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan who had played his flick early to spoon a catch to mid on. Bracken who was brave enough to pitch the ball up to Gayle was rewarded with the wicket of the left hander as he got one to angle in and hold its line to take the offstump. Gayle was clean bowled after he didn’t cover the line of that delivery to be out in the 10th over after scoring a 27-ball 37 which had two sixes off McGrath and half a dozen boundaries. Windies were off to a flier with 80 on the board after 10 overs but they had lost three wickets! The situation was now brought under control by McGrath who complemented Bracken very well.
A couple of more wickets followed for the Kangaroos which included the big one of Brian Lara who edged McGrath behind the stumps to be brilliantly taken by Gilchrist diving to his left. The other wicket that McGrath had got was that of the inform Runako Morton. The West Indian innings never recovered from the big blows and had come to an end in just the 31st over with a paltry total of 138. Only three batsmen could score in double figures! Only Andrew Symonds of the six used bowlers couldn’t take a wicket but he did chip in with a run out that of Corey Collymore that had got the West Indies all out.
Australia had to bat out for some time before the supper break which they did in a shaky fashion losing Gilchrist and Ponting. Gilchrist was caught in the slips after he had not come back and across enough to cover for the away movement generated by Bradshaw. Ponting fell once again to Jerome Taylor after he shuffled across to get beaten on the pads by an inswinger. The break was taken at 6:00 PM local time with the Aussies at 45 for 2 after 10 overs. Meanwhile there was a huge cloud that was building up and it was just matter of time before the rain had hit the ground. The match could resume only at 9:00 PM and the target was a revised one with Watson and Martyn walking in with their side requiring another 71 to get from 25 overs. Both batsmen played with caution and there were no big shots played at all but all the loose deliveries that were bowled were dispatched to the boundaries. Victory for the Australians came in the first ball of the 29th over.
Shane Watson had scored 57 which had come in 88 balls with four boundaries while Damien Martyn for the third time in this tournament remained unbeaten, this time he got 47 from 71 with six fours. The Man of the Tournament as expected went to Chris Gayle who not only scored the big runs with the bat but was also street smart with his off breaks! The better side which was Australia had deservingly won the Tournament and it was Nathan Bracken’s triple blow that really gave them the opportunity to win!