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Australia Wins Cricket World Cup in South Africa - 2003-03-23

Australia has won the Cricket World Cup in Johannesburg with a resounding victory over India. The defending champions were never seriously challenged by their opponents.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting led his team to a spectacular 125-run World Cup victory and several new records. Australia is the first defending champion to retain the title since the cup was first played in 1974. It is also the only team to complete the tournament without losing a single game.

Indian captain Suarav Ganguly won the toss and sent Australia in to bat. Opening batsmen Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden got off to a cracking start, and were at 105 when Gilchrist was caught out in the 14th over.

But it was the second partnership of 234 runs between Ponting and Damien Martin that took the Australians to their winning innings total of 359 for 2. In doing so they set both a world cup partnership record and a new one day international Australian partnership record, a performance described by one commentator as brutally clinical.

The Indian bowlers will be disappointed at their bowling performance, which never really challenged the defending champions.

Indian captain Ganguly broke with recent practice and took his best batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, out with him to open the innings. It was a fatal mistake. The world's best batsman failed to perform in the opening slot. He opened with a stylish four but lofted the next ball high into the air and was caught out by bowler Glenn McGrath.

Indian batsmen Virender Sehwag made the match interesting with an 82. And Rahul Dravid helped with 47. But rain slowed the outfield, making India's job even more difficult. The side collapsed in short order after Dravid's dismissal, going all out in the 39th over, having scored a respectable, but inadequate 234.

Even though he failed to perform in the final, India's Tendulkar was named Man of the Tournament.

The final match brings this controversial Cricket World Cup to a close. The event was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The England team refused to play in Zimbabwe for security reasons, forfeiting six points and failing to make the second round. Two Zimbabwe leading players wore black arm bands to protest their government's human rights policies, and one of them, Henry Olanga, is now in hiding for fear of retaliation by the government or its supporters.