‘‘We will need to be very disciplined against this Indian side’’- a day before the final, Australian captain Belinda Clark proclaimed. She and her teammates did exactly and that meant Australia’s domination of world cricket was complete and comprehensive. At the SuperSport Park in Centurion, 15 years back, on this day, Karen Rolton scored an unbeaten knock of 107 which led Australia to win 2005 ICC One Day World Cup for the 5th time.
While Australia hadn’t lost any match to their en route to final, India only lost to New Zealand in their group match. Australia looked up to their top four batters in form of Karen Rolton, Lisa Keightley, Lisa Sthalekar, and captain herself Belinda Clark whereas Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Shelley Nitschke were there go-to bowlers.
India who had played with the same team throughout the tournament was depended upon their spin duo of Nooshin-al Khadeer and Neetu David who has picked up 11 and 19 wickets respectively, coming to the final. Mithali Raj and Anjum Chopra had scored more than 150 runs and the. Mithali, the ‘raw’ captain, was following her father’s instruction, played the role of role anchor in that tournament well. Considering that the batting depth has rarely been the features of the Indian side, throwing wickets is the thing she can’t afford.
Winning the toss, Clark decided to bat first, but situation went against their expectation. They lost both of their openers inside 11 overs with only 31 runs on the board. Lisa Kieghtley, was sent back by Jhulan Goswami and skipper Belinda Clark who has scored match-winning 62 against England in the semifinal, became victim all-rounder Amita Sharma. “Obviously our early batting wasn’t what we would have liked.” – Clerk admitted at the press conference.
This was the only phase in their first-ever final at any ICC final when India had control over the game. But then came Karen Rolton and at first made a partnership of 40 with Mel Jones to ease the nerves. Once Jones was removed by left-arm spinner Neetu David, her 20th scalp in this tournament, Rolton was joined by Pune born Lisa Sthalekar.
Both of them at first got struck to the wicket and then took the attack to the opposition, scoring 82 runs in the final 10 overs. Mel Jones later said that they wanted to be aggressive and took the match away from India as quickly possible. The chance came when Amita Sharma, one of the best fielder of the side dropped Rolton on 62 at mid-wicket.
And the Aussies never looked back from there. Both Sthalekar and Rolton put up 139 runs for the fourth wicket. Rolton remained not out on 107 off 128 deliveries with 11 boundaries, becoming the first player to make a century in a final. Sthalekar scored 55 to guide her team to a total of 215. Rolton’s century was her third in World Cup games but by far the most important and it also earned her the Player of the Tournament award.
Clark knew that 215 was always going to be difficult to chase if they bowled in the right areas and India lost their opener Anju Jain (29) in the 16th over and after that they lost 5 prominent Indian batters in 9 overs, scoring only 25 runs. Mithali was given out Leg Before on 6-wicket against the left-arm spinner Shelley Nitschke which was later termed debatable. Rest of the middle order found themselves in self-destructive mode and 4 of them ran themselves out.
India’s worst fears came true as Cathryn Fitzpatrick made life difficult on the Centurion track. The fast bowler, coupled with Shelley Nitschke’s slow left-arm orthodox spin left the Indians stranded. Though Amita Sharma and Jhulan Goswami reached to the double-figure mark it was never enough for them as they went on to lose the match by 98 runs. In the end, an evident defeat came in the most humiliating manner when both Fitzpatrick and Nitschke bowled the tailenders Neetu David and Al Khader without a degree of resistance, to wrap up the proceedings.
Australia: 215-4 in 50 overs (Karen Rolton 107 *, Lisa Sthalekar 55, Rumeli Dhar 1/34) beat India: 117/10 in 46 overs (Anju Jain 29, Amita Sharma 22, Cathryn Fitzpatrick 2-23, Shelley Nitschke 2-14).