WC 2003 - India, Australia gear up for heady showdown

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003, 0:00 [IST]
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Sitting prettyJohannesburg: The Bengal Tiger and the Kangaroo will battle it out on Sunday for cricket's most glittering prize.A resurgent, aggressive and confident Indians, after a dream run in the World Cup, take on the defending champion Australia in the high-voltage final at the Wanderers. Will they repeat the triumph of Kapil Dev's team at the Lord's 20 years ago - the only other time India has figured in a World Cup final? Saurav Ganguly, who has led the side with great aplomb, certainly thinks so, saying his side is quite capable of upstaging Australia despite a humiliating nine-wicket loss to it in the league stage. "We can match Australia in every aspect," Ganguly said."It has been a great feeling to reach the final but now we are aiming to win the Cup."It has been an amazing recovery by a side that came into the tournament badly brutalised from the tour of New Zealand and faced a violent backlash from fans back home after the loss to Australia. The team has won eight matches in a row, equalling its best-ever winning streak, and is the only side in the tournament that has looked capable of beating Australia.On the prowlThe Aussies, who are aiming for a record third title, on the other hand, have not lost a single match in the tournament, extending their winning sequence to an unprecedented 16 games. These two have clearly been the best sides in the event and a title clash between them is just what this controversy - ridden World Cup had asked for after the first-round exits of Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and England.The two teams look equally balanced on paper, both having a deep and star-studded batting line-up, and a fearsome pace bowling attack. Though India is not as brilliant a fielding unit as Australia, it certainly picked up a great deal in recent times.A World Cup final has never been a very close affair in the 28-year-old history of the competition but Sundays game promises to break that impression and provide tremendous excitement."Tomorrow you will find out which is the best One-day team in the world," Ganguly said, his confidence oozing from his own as well as the team's form.Ganguly's side has halted the Aussie juggernaut before and the Indians are well prepared to do it once again -- on the biggest of stages. In 2001, the Aussies toured India the 'final frontier' as captain Steve Waugh called it having won a record 15 Tests in a row. They made it 16 with the win in the first Test in Mumbai before meeting their waterloo in Kolkata in that historic match best remembered for a majestic 281-run knock by V V S Laxman. Over a billion cricket crazy fans in India, led by none other than Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself, are hoping that history would repeat itself and their team would put an end to Australia's 16-match winning streak. Umpires: Steve Bucknor (West Indies) and David Shepherd(England).Third umpire: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) Reserve umpire: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka). PTI

Clash of the Giants: Aus takes on India in ideal finish

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