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Australia win Champions Trophy

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
Last updated on: November 05, 2006 23:17 IST
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Australia beat the West Indies by a comfortable eight-wicket margin to win the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.

Chasing a revised target of 116 in 35 overs after rain interrupted play, the World champions coasted home in 28.1 overs.

Damien Martyn (48 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 103 runs for the third wicket with Shane Watson, who was unbeaten on 57, after Australia had lost Adam Gilchrist and captain Ricky Ponting with only 13 runs on the board.

Earlier, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle gave the West Indies a blazing start, putting on 49 runs for the opening wicket in just five overs.

But left-armer Nathan Bracken led Australia's fightback with a three-wicket haul. He claimed the wickets of Chanderpaul (27 from 18 balls), Ramnaresh Sarwan (7) and Gayle (37 off 27 balls) to trigger a collapse.

Glenn McGrath snared Brian Lara cheaply, caught behind for 2 as the West Indies collapsed dramatically in the middle overs, losing their last eight wickets for just 59 runs.

West Indies innings:

Australia changed its opening bowling combination, giving the new ball to Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken. It seemed strange that the Glenn McGrath was ignored.

Chanderpaul looked like a man possessed as he singled out Lee for special treatment, hitting him for boundaries at will and also a chancy six over the third man fielder.

After five overs, the West Indies had raced to 49 for 0 and Australia were feeling the pressure.

But Bracken got the wicket of the high-flying Chanderpaul in the sixth over, when the left-hander played a wide delivery on to his stumps.

Chanderpaul had looked determined to tear the Australian attack to pieces as he launched into a ferocious attack early on before Bracken got his wicket just at the right time. He gave the West Indies the perfect start, scoring a blazing 27 from 18 balls, inclusive of four boundaries and a six.

Brett Lee suffered the most, conceding 36 from his first three overs, before giving way to veteran Glenn McGrath.

Then Gayle took over the mantle as he launched into the experienced McGrath, who was introduced in to the attack in the seventh over. He dumped him with utter disdain over long-in for a huge six in his first over.

Meanwhile, from the other end, Bracken got the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan for 7.

Gayle continued his assault on McGrath in the pacer's next over. McGrath was made to feel the heat again as Gayle hit a couple of boundaries and a six as Australia raced to 79 for 2 after nine overs.

Gayle, who scored a blazing century in the semi-finals against South Africa, seemed set for another special knock. But Bracken struck the all-important blow for Australia, when he bowled Gayle for 37.

The left-hander hit six boundaries and two sixes in his 27-ball knock as the West Indies reached 80 for 3 after 10 overs.

Brian Lara and Dwayne Bravo tried to bring stability to the innings with some cautious batting. The duo added just eight runs in five overs during their stay at the wicket, before Lara fell, caught behind to McGrath for 2.

What an amazing comeback by the veteran pacer after the initial onslaught by Gayle!

His first two overs went for 22, but in his next three he just gave a single run, with two maidens, while taking the big wicket of captain Lara.

McGrath inflicted further misery on the Windies when he scalped the wicket of Runako Morton as West Indies slumped to 94 for 5 in the 19th over.

His first spell was just unbelievable and had single-handedly destroyed the Windies. His figures read: 2 for 24 in seven overs, with three maiden overs.

Marlon Samuels flicked straight to Michael Hussey at mid-on off Shane Watson for 7.

Dwayne Bravo fell leg before wicket for 21 as he failed to read the incoming delivery from spinner Brad Hogg in the 26th over.

Australia wasted no time in finishing up the tail and the West Indies were bowled out for a lowly 138 in 30.4 overs.

The last eight wickets fell for the addition of just 59 runs after they were cruising at 79 for 2 at one stage.

Bracken, who started the rot, was the most successful bowler, taking 3 for 22 in his six overs. McGrath gave him good support, taking 2 for 24 in his seven.

It can be said that the notorious Mumbai pitch once again lived up to its low-scoring reputation. But, as all witnessed, the pitch did not play badly. All credit must go to the Australian bowlers and some poor shot-selection by the West Indies batsmen.

Only a miracle can see the West Indies defend their title from here.

Australia innings:

Captain Brian Lara started with part-time spinner Chris Gayle in a bid to defend the small target. He just bowled one over before giving way to Ian Bradshaw, their best bowler in the tournament so far.

Bradshaw struck immediately, claiming the vital wicket of Adam Gilchrist, who was caught in the slips for 2, in his first over.

Then, in a dramatic change, it suddenly got very dark around the stadium with a huge cloud hovering over. The wind speed picked up and suddenly it got a bit cooler.

Jerome Taylor dismissed Ricky Ponting leg before wicket for 0 and the crowd erupted in support of the West Indies in the fourth over. The stadium was filled to around 70 per cent and not a soul in the stands was cheering for Australia.

Damien Martyn was left with another repair job after those early wickets. He seems to relish playing under pressure and even today he enjoyed himself when it was crunch time.

He and Shane Watson played steadily to take Australia to 45 for 2 in 10 overs at the dinner break. The ground staff immediately covered the pitch, taking every precaution in view of the cloud cover above.

Australia needed 94 runs in the remaining 40 overs, with eight wickets in hand, quite an easy task on hand. The West Indies were only hoping for a few quick wickets after the break, or maybe some help from the weather gods.

Indeed their request was answered as it started raining around 1842 IST, the same time the teams were supposed to take the field after the break.

Quite out of nowhere, the rain intervened much to the relief of the Windies. And it did rain heavily, leading to a delay of more than two hours.

After a tireless job from the ground staff, the game finally got underway at 2100 IST, a delay of two hours and 15 minutes.

Australia were set a revised target of 116 runs in 35 overs. Effectively, Australia needed another 71 runs in 25 overs, with eight wickets in hand.

Martyn and Watson continued in the same vein as before the break. They milked the bowling quite effectively, taking singles at will and dispatching the loose balls.

Watson (57 from 88 balls) and Martyn (48 from 71 balls) shared an unbroken stand of 103 runs as Australia cruised to their first-ever ICC Champions Trophy title.

Watson, who had earlier taken two wickets, was named the man of the match.

Gayle, who scored 474 runs in eight matches at 79.00 with three centuries, was named man of the series. He also finished as the top run scorer in the tournament.

West Indies pacer Jerome Taylor ended as the top wicket-taker with 13 wickets.

Once again Australia showed why they are the world's best team. After their loss to the West Indies earlier in the group games, they raised their tempo to such a high level and were unbeatable.

There is no doubt that the triumph will be a huge morale boost for them ahead of the all-important Ashes series.

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai