Australia captain Ricky Ponting powered the Rest of the World to a 112-run victory over the Asian XI in the charity match for victims of the tsunami disaster, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
His 112 off 102 balls, which included three sixes and eight fours, was the cornerstone as the Rest put up an imposing total of 344 for 8 while batting first.
In reply, the Asians could only muster 232 runs. Daniel Vettori claimed 3 for 58 while Shane Warne bagged 2 for 27 as the Asian eleven folded in 39.5 overs.
India vice-captain Rahul Dravid top-scored for the Asians with 75 off 71 balls.
Rest of the World innings
A full house turned up as the organisers of the match hoped to raise A$10 million for World Vision. The players observed a minute's silence for the victims of the disaster before the match, which was declared an official One-Day International.
For the Asian XI, Alok Kapali was named 12th man while Sachin Tendulkar made an appearance as a fielder. Sourav Ganguly (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan (India), Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas, Kumar Sangakara, Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Abdul Razzaq, Yousuf Youhana (Pakistan) made up the playing eleven.
The Rest of the World side: Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne (Australia), Brian Lara, Chris Gayle (West Indies), Stephen Fleming, Chris Cairns, Daniel Vettori (New Zealand), Darren Gough (England). 12th man: Dwayne Bravo (West Indies).
Gayle and Gilchrist were the Rest of the World's designated openers and, as usual, Gilchrist was quickly into his stride. But Zaheer Khan struck a blow for the Asian XI when he got Gayle's edge in the second over and Sangakkara accepted the catch without much ado. (1 for 1)
But the wicket didn't deter the Rest as Ponting and Gilchrist counter-attacked to good measure. Gilchrist hit Zaheer for fours in two balls with a pull and an off-drive and then earned $50,000 for the charity by planting Vaas a couple of centimetres over the square-leg boundary.
Car-makers Toyota are offering $50,000 for every six that will be hit during the match and that amount would be added to World Vision's kitty. '3 Mobile' are donating $1,000 for every run scored.
Kumble dropped a difficult chance to give Ponting a life in the sixth over; it was a mistake the Aussie made the Asians pay for.
In the 10th over, Zaheer spilled a tough caught-and-bowled attempt from Gilchrist, but, luckily, the Australia wicketkeeper was dismissed going for a wild slog off the next ball. The ball bounced a bit on the left-hander, who top-edged to Sangakarra. (2 for 50)
Lara walked in to replace Gilchrist; this was one batting line-up that didn't allow the opposition to relax. He struggled early on and Muralitharan, playing his first match after shoulder surgery, found his line and length immediately. But the West Indies ace worked hard, grew in confidence and was 36 at the innings' halfway mark.
Lara's troubles, however, were in complete contrast to Ponting's form in the middle. The right-hander stroked the ball with such ease and elegance that even in a match with such star quality it made him stand out.
The duo put on 122 runs and thus set a solid platform for the rest of the batsmen to follow before Lara (52 off 77 balls), trying to hit Kumble for a six, only managed to hit the ball to Vaas at long-off. (172 for 3)
Cairns was in next, and his big-hitting ability was on display immediately. Today he gave the world another example of why he is such a feared player. While Lara struggled a bit, he seemed in peak form and along with Ponting torched the Asian XI to good effect.
The two put on 91 runs in an awesome display of big-hitting during the 8.5 overs they were together, and the main course included a sumptuous buffet of fours and sixes.
Ponting was gone after scoring 115 off 102 balls, going for another big hit off Kumble. The first five balls of the leg-spinner's over were hammered for 21 runs, including two consecutive sixes. The right-hander tried to hit another six off the last ball but Kumble kept the ball right up and Sangakkarra completed an easy stumping. (263 for 4)
Glenn McGrath, given his new-found confidence with the bat, walked in next. His intention was to go for the big hits but he was heading back to the pavilion after just one delivery, caught by Youhana off Muralitharan. (264 for 5)
Cairns was gone a little later after scoring a superb 69 off just 47 balls, including six boundaries and two sixes. (286 for 6) Fleming (30) and Vettori (27 not out off 17 balls) used the long handle to good effect as the ROW XI reached a mammoth 344 for the loss of eight wickets in their allotted 50 overs.
If any line-up in the world can chase down this target then it is the Asian XI and they will hoping that the likes of Sehwag and Jayasuriya can light up the park with some brilliant strokeplay of their own.
At the break, A$3, 512, 482 had been collected.
Asian XI innings
The Asian XI needed to score at almost seven runs an over throughout the 50 overs and that's a difficult chase in every sense. But the openers also knew that wickets were just as important as runs in the early going.
Sehwag and Jayasuriya swung their bats at everything without much success. Despite their intentions only 60 runs were scored off the first ten overs when the need was for much more.
Sehwag charged to a Glenn McGrath delivery; Jayasuriya did the same to Gough, England's sole representative in the match, and both were moderately successful.
A 15-run Gough over, which included a six from Sehwag, led to Chris Cairns replacing the English bowler in the attack.
The move immediately brought dividends as Jayasuriya, going for a huge hit, was deceived by a Cairns slower ball, and Stephen Fleming, who dropped Sehwag on 9 off McGrath, claimed an easy catch at first slip. (1 for 59)
Ganguly joined Sehwag but looked far from comfortable at the wicket.
Warne, who had not bowled in an ODI since dislocating his shoulder at the MCG in 2002, received a huge welcome from his home crowd, and showed his genius after just two balls.
Sehwag was on strike when the leg-spinner came into the attack and on evidence of their battles during the Test series in India, one knew that Sehwag would go after Warne.
Warne floated one outside the leg-stump and prompted a heave from Sehwag that flew straight to Gayle on the square-leg boundary. (2 for 76)
Sehwag was gone after scoring 45 but the Asian XI was in bigger trouble when Ganguly was caught off Vettori by Gough at mid-off.
Warne claimed his second wicket, that of Yousuf Youhana. (4 for 114)
After 25 overs, the two sides were neck and neck in terms of runs. The Rest were 136 for 2 while the Asian XI was 137 for 4.
The biggest problem for the Asian XI was that despite having runs on the board, their best batsmen were back in the pavilion and trying to chase 344 was not going to be easy. They needed Sangakarra to fire, but like the rest he too flattered to deceive.
The wicketkeeper (24 off 24 balls) tried to hit one through the off-side but only got an edge to Gilchrist to give Gough his first wicket.
Thereafter it was a procession of the Asian batsmen, as Razzaq (17), Vaas (7) and Zaheer (0) departed in quick succession.
Dravid (75 off 71 balls) hit a few big blows in the end but it was a case of too little too late. The Asian XI was all out for 232 and the Rest of the World won the match by a massive 112 runs.
But, at the end of the day, this match wasn't about winning and losing. It was about realizing that we need to do everything in our power to help those who survived the tsunami disaster in South Asia.
14,645,123 Australian dollars were raised from the match.