London: Matthew Hayden believes “even Sachin Tendulkar at his best” could not have played a better innings than his skipper Ricky Ponting did in the World Cup final.
Writing in his column in the Daily Telegraph, Hayden said the game against India was “effectively over” after Ponting had played the “innings of his life”, a 121-ball 140 not out that contained eight sixes and four fours.
Hayden said although Ponting made the headlines, and rightly so because “I do not believe even Sachin Tendulkar at his best could have played any better, the contribution of Gilchrist cannot be understated.
Gilchrist made an attacking 57 from 48 balls setting the stage for a huge Australian total.
Hayden, who himself did not have a very impressive tournament, said the Australian team was always “sure” of winning the World Cup and now had already set its sights on a third successive title in 2007. “None of us had any doubts we would win the World Cup, but it still was a massive relief to reach our goal and get our hands on the trophy after two months of hard work in South Africa,” Hayden wrote.
“We knew that if we executed our plans correctly then no one could touch us. That was borne out against India when we got a fairytale start thanks to Adam Gilchrist, and when Ricky Ponting came in and played the innings of his life, then it was effectively game over.
“Leaning on my bat at the non-striker’s end, I almost felt as though I was watching a highlights reel when he was batting, and the way he played left the experienced Jawagal Srinath without a clue where to bowl,” Hayden wrote. He said the Indian cause had been lost quite early as they surrendered before the Aussie dominance. “As ever, we looked to assert ourselves and, in the face of that approach, the Indians bottled it with the tone set by the very first 10-ball over from their left-armer Zaheer Khan.
“He is usually an in-your-face type of character, and India fed off his success and attitude earlier in the tournament, playing accordingly. But after his opening spell of three overs for 28, he retreated with his tail between his legs and they crumbled.”