Tue, Nov 07, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Australia nail down elusive title

CHAMPIONS AT LAST Nathan Bracken was man of the match after taking three wickets in the space of 22 balls as the No. 1 side claimed its first Champions Trophy title

AP , MUMBAI, INDIA

Australia cricketer Shane Watson poses with his ``Man of The Match'' award during a presentation for the ICC Champions Trophy at The Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. Australia defeated the West Indies by 8 wickets.

PHOTO: AFP

Australia outplayed the West Indies by eight wickets on Sunday to claim the limited-overs Champions Trophy title that had been missing from the silverware collection of Ricky Ponting's team.

Bundling defending champion the West Indies out for 138 in 30.4 overs, Australia was on course for victory when play was interrupted by heavy showers. The loss of two-and-a-quarter hours of play forced the organizers to change the equation in the 50-over contest, reducing Australia's target to 116 from 35 overs.

World champion Australia sprinted to 116 for two in 28.1 overs to clinch the limited-overs trophy that had eluded it on four previous attempts since the biennial event began in 1998.

Opener Shane Watson (57-not-out) and Damien Martyn (47-not-out) shared an unbroken 103-run partnership for the third wicket to steer Australia home after the early departure of Adam Gilchrist (2) and skipper Ponting (zero).

Watson's 88-ball knock included four boundaries, while Martyn had six fours from 71 balls.

Winner of the past two World Cups, Australia was making its maiden appearance in the final of the Champions Trophy, cricket's second biggest limited-overs tournament, despite its long reign as world No. 1. The Australians stumbled out of the semi-finals at the previous two tournaments.

Australia avenged its 10-run loss to the West Indies at the same venue last month in the tournament's preliminary round.

The Australian victory was set up by pace bowlers Nathan Bracken (3-22) and Glenn McGrath (2-24), who ripped through the top order as West Indies crashed to the lowest score in a Champions Trophy final.

Eight West Indies batsmen failed to enter double figures as the innings collapsed after a robust opening stand between Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who put on 49 runs off 31 deliveries.

Bracken sparked the collapse when he claimed three wickets in the space of 22 deliveries to shatter the West Indies top order, leaving McGrath to tidy up the middle.

Seam bowler Watson claimed two for 11 to dash any chances of a late recovery. His all-round performance fetched Watson the award of the final's best player, while Gayle was adjudged the player of the tournament.

The previous lowest total in the final of the biennial Champions Trophy was England's 217 in 2004.

No team has successfully defended a Champions Trophy title.

Gayle and Chanderpaul's opening partnership appeared troublesome for Australia before Chanderpaul edged Bracken's delivery on to his stumps. Chanderpaul's 18-ball 27 contained four boundaries and a six over third man off fast bowler Brett Lee.

Bracken added the wickets of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Gayle to his haul. Sarwan top-edged an intended flick and miscued the ball to Brad Hogg at mid-on, while Gayle had his off-stump dislodged by an outswinger.

Gayle struck two sixes of McGrath in successive overs when he was introduced into the attack, but Bracken curbed his ambitions with an outswinger. Gayle's 27-ball knock contained six boundaries and two sixes.

McGrath then had both Lara (2) and Runako Morton (2) caught behind by Gilchrist.

Watson removed Marlon Samuels (7) and Carlton Baugh (9) in successive overs as Dwayne Bravo (21) watched the slump from the other end. Bravo was the eighth man out, trapped leg-before-wicket by left-arm spinner Hogg.

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