Australia ‘still’ a world champion

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Australia has proved critics wrong by clinching the ICC super series.

Australia romped to victory in the ICC Super Series on the back of Adam Gilchrist’s fastest one-day century by an Australian and an unfulfilled World XI batting challenge in the second one-dayer here Friday.

Australia backed up their crushing 93-run win in Wednesday’s opening game with a 55-run win over the world all-stars to clinch the best-of-three match series with the final game to play on Sunday.

Man-of-the-match Gilchrist smashed a 79-ball 103 in Australia’s imposing 328 for four and they weathered an explosive start by the world all-stars before dismissing them for 273 off 45.3 overs to storm to victory.

Gilchrist claimed his 12th one-day century in 73 balls in the officially-sanctioned ODI, cracking eight fours and four sixes to eclipse the mark of 78 that Gilchrist had shared with former captain Allan Border.

The world team early appeared well on target in the imposing chase with Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara taking the willow to the largely-inexperienced Australian attack.

Sehwag smashed four boundaries in 15-ball 21, West Indian Gayle, who replaced Muttiah Muralitharan as super sub, clobbered 54 in 48 balls with eight fours and a six.

Gayle and Sangakkara hammered 98 runs for the second wicket off 75 balls before Gayle swooshed outside off-stump at Shane Watson and was caught by Gilchrist.

Sangakkara, who topscored with 64 in the first match, was run out for 61 off 44 balls in a mix-up with Jacques Kallis in the 20th over and from there it was all downhill for the world team.

Brian Lara followed up his two-ball duck with a dismal five, out to a poor shot to left-armer Nathan Bracken over driving on the up to Andrew Symonds in the covers for five.

Another crazy run out cost the world dearly with Kallis just beaten home by a diving one-handed throw down by Ponting and given out by the video umpire for 11 with two wickets falling on 157.

Rahul Dravid and Andrew Flintoff steadied the innings with a 63-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Flintoff got his feet in a tangle and chipped a catch to Symonds in the covers off Bracken for 42 off 52 balls.

That left the world XI 109 runs short of the target with 13 overs left which was out of sight when Dravid was bowled by Symonds for 26 at 235 for seven.

Gilchrist threw off the disappointment of a lacklustre Ashes series in England and launched into another of his pyrotechnic innings, clubbing Shoaib Akhtar, Muttiah Muralitharan (twice) and Daniel Vettori for sixes, two of which were caught by members of the crowd.

The world bowlers looked impotent against the Australian onslaught with England’s Ashes hero Flintoff going for 1-64 off eight overs, Shoaib 0-61 off eight overs and Kallis 0-33 of three overs.

Gilchrist should have been run out on 98 when he went for a quick single off Sehwag only for England’s Kevin Pietersen to miss throwing down the wicket from close range before Sehwag bowled the opener.

Ponting strolled to his half-century off 54 balls, picking off the world bowlers at virtually a run-a-ball in tandem with Damien Martyn.

Ponting and Martyn put on 103 runs for the third wicket before a mix-up led to the Australian captain being run out by Flintoff for 66 off 72 balls in the 46th over.

Martyn was bowled next ball by Flintoff for a run-a-ball 54 in a return to form after his undistinguished Ashes series.

Andrew Symonds (31 not out) and Michael Clarke (17 not out) kept the run-flow high right to the end of the innings, taking 13 off the last over bowled by Kallis.