BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 29, 2007– Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene believes that Australia have that something extra which separates champions from the others.
Australia won the World Cup for a record third successive time when they completed a 53-run victory on Duckworth-Lewis method against Sri Lanka in virtual darkness at the Kensington Oval here on Saturday.
“I think they always keep improving. A lot of teams have competed really well against Australia in the past, but maybe when they come to a big tournament they seem to have that little bit of extra,” said Jayawardene.
“They have different ways of going about things. They went unbeaten when it was difficult to remain unbeaten in the tournament because of different conditions and opposition, but they played really good cricket.”
Australia are unbeaten in their 29 Cup matches beginning with 1999, with their last 22 wins coming under Ricky Ponting’s captaincy.
“Probably wait for some of their players to retire soon. One (fast bowler Glenn McGrath) is going,” Jayawardene said when asked of the gap between Australia and other nations.
“We thought we had a very decent chance in the final. We initially thought that it’s a 100-over game and had an even chance, but they proved us wrong. They have some very good players who deliver in big games.”
The Sri Lankan captain was all praise for Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist who smashed an unbeaten 149 – the highest ever in a World Cup final – off 104 balls with eight sixes and 13 fours.
Man-of-the-match Gilchrist’s blitz helped Australia post a challenging 281-4 off 38 overs. Sri Lanka were 206-7 after their a rain-revised target of 269 off 36 overs.
“That was a brilliant innings and unfortunately I was the opposing captain looking at it. He did the same to us in one of the VB finals at Brisbane,” Jayawardene said, referring to Gilchrist’s century at Brisbane last year.
“I can’t take anything away from our guys because they bowled in good areas. It was solid hitting. You can’t control when Gilly is in that kind of mood and it was difficult chasing after that.”
Jayawardene said he was still satisfied with his team’s performance in the tournament because the players put in a lot of hard work.
“I am very proud of the guys because they put in very good effort. When we were leaving Sri Lanka, we were a good team but no one expected us to be in the final,” said Jayawardene.
“We proved a lot of people wrong because we worked very hard in the last six months. I am really proud of the way the guys performed in the tournament.
“I am disappointed with the final because this is a lifetime opportunity for you to win a World Cup. We didn’t play that well, but obviously it was because of a brilliant knock.”
“You try different things, but sometimes even a mistimed shot went over the ropes, so it was Gilly for you. You just have to wait for an opportunity. I thought 240-250 would have been a very competitive to chase.”
Sri Lanka looked in the game when opener Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara (54) put on 116 for the second wicket.
“The way Sanath and Sanga chased we thought we had a chance, but after the rain we had to go for the Duckworth-Lewis method and take few chances. We lost three wickets and that was it,” said Jayawardene.