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Australia crush Sri Lanka to clinch World Cup hat-trick
 
Bridgetown, Barbados: Australia won a record third successive World Cup on Saturday amid scenes of unprecedented confusion as night fell over Kensington Oval.

The Australians thought they had the rain-reduced match won with Sri Lanka needing 63 runs from three overs chasing a revised target after Australia had plundered 281 for four from 38.

The champions started their victory celebrations prematurely when the Sri Lankan batsmen left the field due to bad light with the score on 206 for seven.

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The scoreboard on the ground flashed up with "Congratulations Australia" but umpires Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar thought otherwise and the teams returned to play in the dark.

The match was finally ended with Sri Lanka 215 for eight and Australia awarded a 53-run victory.

Australia, unbeaten in 29 World Cup matches since they lost to Pakistan in 1999, are the only team to win the tournament three times in a row. It was their fourth victory overall. Read moreread more

 
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Their win was set up by vice-captain Adam Gilchrist, who plundered a record 149 when play finally began 2-3/4 hours late.

Gilchrist broke Clive Lloyd's record for the fastest century in a World Cup final and went on to better his captain Ricky Ponting's record individual score of 140 not out at the 2003 final. He has scored more than 50 in each of Australia's hat-trick of World Cup wins.

Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden (38) put on 172 for the first wicket, breaking the previous opening record of 129 in a final set by England's Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott against West Indies in 1979.

Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, made a spirited reply with Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Kumar Sangakkara (54) adding 116 from 106 balls for the second wicket with some delightful strokes.

After their dismissals, rain again swept across the Kensington Oval, stopping play for 12 minutes, and Sri Lanka's target was reduced to 269 from 36.

SUBLIME GILCHRIST

The Sri Lankans continued to go for their shots in the increasing gloom but wickets fell steadily and the game finally ended in total darkness with nobody on the ground able to figure out what was going on.

Gilchrist, who scored one in each of his last two innings, recaptured the timing that makes him one of the most destructive batsman in international cricket.

He lofted the second ball of Chaminda Vaas's second over for four then hit the left-armer over long-on for six and slashed a further boundary past slip.

Dilhara Fernando replaced the expensive Vaas in the attack but the tall paceman was unable to hold on to a sharp caught-and-bowled from Gilchrist, on 31, at ankle height.

The batsman celebrated with a four and a six from the next two deliveries.

Two sixes off off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan and another off Fernando brought up the 100 from 102 balls.

Gilchrist reached his century in 72 balls with eight fours and six sixes, 10 balls fewer than West Indian captain Lloyd's match-winning innings in the 1975 Cup final against Australia.

Hayden was caught in the covers by captain Mahela Jayawardene off the impressive Lasith Malinga and Gilchrist followed one short of his 150 caught off a skier after batting for 104 balls with 13 fours and eight sixes.

Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya took fours through extra-cover, point and over slips from a Shaun Tait over.

Glenn McGrath, playing his last match for Australia, began economically before Sangakkara ruined his figures with a six into the crowd followed by two fours.

His dismissal, a simple catch to Ponting at mid-on off Brad Hogg's left-arm spin, was the beginning of the end for Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya was bowled for 63 from 67 balls by Michael Clarke and a difficult task for the remaining batsmen was made impossible by the rain and dark.

 
 
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