In a way, it was fitting that the final of this world cup saw truly farcical last three overs. For a while, but only for a while, the match seemed to have come alive when Sangakkara broke lose and Jayasuriya were batting at a run a ball. But with the loss of both half-centurions in quick succession, the rain stopping play, and Douglas Lewis coming into play, even the revised target of 269 in 36 overs always seemed out of reach.
And the Aussies just relentlessly kept the pressure on, choking the Lankans and getting regular breakthroughs. Clearly, Gilchrist had already won the match long before the Lankans came on to bat. Technically, with the Lankans at 206/7 in 33 overs, and the batsmen accepting the light, the match should have been considered conceded to Australia, even though 3 more overs were left. The Aussies had already started celebrating, the commentary team had congratulated them, and it was clearly over.
But, well, no. There was utter confusion. Perhaps over the Douglas Lewis calculation, as no body seemed to be clear of the target, or the rules, with bizarre suggestions coming from the commentary team that the umpires - Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar - suggested that the match be continued on the reserve day. Perhaps no one reminded them about the 20 over regulation.
Thankfully, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene intervened and the remaining overs were played out in utter darkness.
In any case, the last three overs just stretched the match on inconsequentially, till the deserving team finally completed its 36 over formality, and the Aussies had made history by becoming the first team in the history of the World Cup to have won the cup for the third successive time after 1999 and 2003. To realise their total dominance of the World Cup competitions so far, recall that they were the losing finalists in 1996 to Sri Lanka and also won the 1987 edition, thus overall having won the World Cup a total of four times.
Sri Lanka Batting: 215-8
1-7, 2.1 ov -- WU Tharanga c Gilchrist b Bracken 6 (8b, 1x4s)
2-123, 19.5 ov -- KC Sangakkara c Ponting b Hogg 54 (52b, 6x4s, 1x6s)
3-145, 22.6ov -- ST Jayasuriya b Clarke 63 (67b, 9x4s)
4-156, 26.1 ov -- DPMD Jayawardene 19 (19 balls, 1x4s)
5-188, 30 ov -- TM Dishan run out 14 (13b, 1x4s)
6-190, 30.1 ov -- LPC Silva b Clarke 21 (22b, 1x4s)
7-194, 31.5 ov -- RP Arnold c Gilchrist b McGrath 1
8-211, 34 ov -- SL Malinga st Gilchrist b Symonds 10 (6b, 1x6)
WPUJC Vaas not out 11 (21 b)
CRD Fernando not out 1 (6b)
Extras 15 (lb 1, w 15)
Fittingly, Glenn McGrath, playing the last match of his career, was the player of the tournament
NW Bracken 1-34 in 6 (1w)
SW Tait 0-42 in 6 (2w)
GD McGrath 1-31 in 7 (1w)
SR Watson 1-49 in 7 (3w)
GB Hogg 1-19 in 3
MJ Clarke 2-33 in 5 (2w)
A Symonds 1-6 in 2
If it was Ponting in the last World Cup final against India, it was Gilchrist today -- 149 in 104 balls (13x4s and 8x6s), the fastest hundred (72 balls 8x4, 6x6) and the highest ever in a World Cup final, that powered the Aussies to this total. Would the Lankans cave in like India did last time or would they come out with a stunner?
Australia: 281 in 38 overs:
172-1, 22.5ov -- M Hayden c Jayawardene b Malinga 38 (55balls, 3x4s,1x6s)
224-2, 30.3ov -- A Gilchrist c Silva b Fernando 149 (104 balls, 13x4s, 8x4s)
261-3, 35.2ov -- RT Ponting run out 37 (42b 1x4 1x6)
4-266, 36.2ov -- SR Watson b Malinga 3 (3b)
A Symonds not out 23 (21b, 2x4s)
MJ Clarke not out 8 (6b, 1x4s)
Extras: 23 (lb 4, w 16, nb 3)
Sri Lanka Bowling
WPUJC Vaas 0-54 in 8 overs 6.75 (2nb, 1w)
SL Malinga 2-49 in 8 overs
CRD Fernando 1-74 in 8 overs (1nb, 4w)
M Muralitharan 0-44 in 7 overs (2w)
TM Dilshan 0-23 in 2overs (1w)
ST Jayasuriya 0-33 in 5 overs