28th April 2007 is one of the most controversial days in the history of World Cup cricket. It was the day of the final of the 2007 cricket World Cup at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown. It should have been a day of good, tough cricket between two best teams of the tournament, Australia and Sri Lanka who were repeating their clash in the 1996 World Cup final, 11 years earlier. Instead, the match is now remembered for all the wrong reasons and the farce at the end of the game.
In general conscience, 2007 World Cup was the least attractive edition of the tournament, with slow pitches, high-priced tickets and big teams like India and Pakistan eliminated early the tournament never reached the level of excitement expected from a global event like World Cup. And if you add Bob Woolmer's death to it, you will realize why people still remember it for all the negative highlights.
In the lead up to the final, Australia proved their superiority by winning all the 10 matches in their group and super-eight before blowing away South Africa in the semi-final. They were the champion from last two World Cups and were looking to complete their hat-trick of World Cups. This would have been the first time, any team completes the hat-trick. Sri Lanka also played well and finished in the second position in super eights with five wins out of seven matches.
On the day of the final, nature created the first blow. It was raining and the match was delayed. When it finally started it was a 38-over affair. Australia took the early initiative. Adam Gilchrist, then 35 was not in a great form leading up to final, but on the day he found his touch and clobbered the bowling. He did not respect any bowlers and shots went to every corner of the ground. With 13 fours and eight sixes, Gilchrist scored 149 runs in just 104 deliveries in one of most majestic batting performances in a World Cup final. He later revealed that he had a squash ball inside his gloves to help his grip. Obviously, an innings of that caliber could not be only played depending on the grip but there were some doubts on the legality of his action. Australia ended with a mammoth 281/4 in 38 overs with a run-rate of 7.39 runs per over.
Sri Lanka started briskly but they were never scoring at seven runs per over and always behind the target. Further rain reduced the match to a 36-over contest and revised target for Sri Lanka was 269. At the end of 33rd over Sri Lanka were at 206/7 and required an improbable 63 runs more in the next three overs. This is when nature again intervened and umpires decided that light was not enough to continue the match. Once the bad light stopped play, the Australians started celebrating because in their mind, the match was completed at the end of 20 overs and they were way ahead in the D/L method. And they were right but somehow this simple thing was missed by the four match officials. The match referee Jeff Crowe, the on-ground umpires Steve Bucknor, Aleem Dar and the third umpire Rudy Koertzen missed this part of the rule and suggested the teams that if play was not resumed on that day, the teams needed to come back the next day to play the remaining three overs to complete the 36 overs allocated to Sri Lankan team.
Both Captains Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardene could not convince the umpires and finally decided to complete the last three overs on that day itself. In near-darkness Australian spinners came and bowled gently which were again genteelly played by Sri Lankan batsmen for three overs and finally the match was over. But the controversy remained and till the day it is remembered as one of the most bizarre moments during a World Cup final.