Bengaluru, May 9: Australia's dashing wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist chose to better every other batting record in the 2007 World Cup final, hitting the highest individual score (149 off 104 balls) and scoring it faster than any other centurion in the final of the quadrennial extravaganza (just 72 balls).
Australia had remained unbeaten since their loss to Pakistan in the group stage of 1999 World Cup and the Kangaroos maintained the clean slate for the second consecutive World Cup in the 2007 edition held in the West Indies. They had won 11 matches on the trot till the final and ensured that all the hard work did not go waste in the mother of all ties.
Gilchrist's superlative batting saw Australia scoring 281 for four in just 38 overs in Bridgetown on a day marred by rain and bad light. Sri Lanka were set a revised target of 268 in 36 overs to win their second world title after 1996.
Despite a hope-raising 116-run partnership in 17 overs from Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Kumar Sangakkara (54), Lankans could eventually manage only 215 for eight in their allotted overs even as darkness descended.
Gilchrist was picked as the man of the match in a logical sense but what had made his sensational knock that had included 13 fours and eight sixes unique was his use of the squash ball.
On hitting his century, Gilchrist acknowledged the crowd's ovation and then raised his left hand and showed off his glove and curiously, it had a lump in the middle. Nobody had an idea till Gilchrist himself cracked the puzzle.
In an interview with the ICC later, Gilchrist said: "I had been using this little device on the advice of a batting coach back in Perth. Often, he would get me to put this squash ball in my bottom hand, and basically, it's about putting the glove on, and my coach told me, 'Try not to grip the bat too much with those last two, maybe three, fingers'."
In a complete technical coup, that squash ball acted as a resistance to over-gripping the bat with the bottom fingers and while Gilchrist held the bat with the help of his top two fingers, it allowed his top hand to dominate the hitting. Gilchrist revealed the special effect that the squash ball had on his batting once he belted Lasith Malinga to reach his match-winning ton.