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Gilchrist's innings shattered our dream: Jayawardene
 
Bridgetown, Barbados: Sri Lanka's dream of winning a second World Cup was shattered by a stupendous century from Adam Gilchrist, captain Mahela Jayawardene said.

Gilchrist slammed a 104-ball 149 - the fastest century and highest score in a World Cup final - as he hammered 13 fours and eight sixes to pave the way for Australia's 53-run victory in the rain-hit final Saturday.

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''It was simply a brilliant innings from Gilchrist, unfortunately I was the opposition captain watching it,'' Jayawardene said.

Bolstered by Gilchrist's aggressive strokeplay, Australia cantered to 281 for four in 38 overs. Sri Lanka's target was reduced to 269 from 36 overs after another rain interruption during its innings, but it could only reach 215 for the loss of eight wickets.

''I'm obviously disappointed to lose the final. This was a lifetime opportunity of winning the World Cup, said Jayawardene. ''But it was taken away by a great innings.'' Read moreread more

 
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Jayawardene's team was hoping to repeat the title triumph of 1996, which made Sri Lanka the last country to defeat Australia in the final.

''We thought we had a decent chance to reclaim the World Cup, but they proved us wrong. Gilchrist took the initiative away from us,'' he said.

''It was solid hitting ... you can't control the flow of runs when Gilchrist's in such form. He did it to us earlier once in the final of an Australian tri-series.''

Gilchrist surpassed Australian skipper Ricky Ponting's 140 not out, against India in the 2003 title contest, as the top score in a World Cup final. He reached the century mark in 72 balls, 10 balls faster than Clive Lloyd's hundred in the 1975 final against Australia.

Gilchrist was dropped twice, the first being a hard return catch for Dilhara Fernando when he was on 31 and then by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara after he reached his century.

''Even mishits were going over the fence,'' said Jayawardene. ''In such situations, you try different things, be patient and wait.''

Australia became the first county to post a hat-trick of World Cup title wins, having earlier emerged champion in 1999 and 2003.

Man-of-the-match Gilchrist was among the three Australians - the others being Ponting and retiring pace bowler Glenn McGrath - who have featured in all three title-winning campaigns. Ponting and McGrath were also on the line-up that lost to Sri Lanka in the 1996 final in Lahore, Pakistan.

Jayawardene said he was proud at the way Sri Lanka had played in this World Cup, advancing to the title round.

''I'm very proud of the guys and what we have achieved,'' he said. ''We put up a great World Cup performance, we played exceptionally well to make the final.''

Jayawardene said Sri Lanka did not give up despite Gilchrist's blazing century, but stayed in the contest through Sanath Jayasuriya and Sangakkara's 116-run partnership for the second wicket.

''We had a decent chance when Jayasuriya and Sangakkara were batting, but it began raining during the partnership,'' said the Sri Lankan captain, whose team was then trailing Australia in the Duckworth-Lewis formula that decides disrupted games.

''We had to take a chance when the rain appeared as we were 14-15 runs short of Australia on the Duckworth-Lewis system. But we lost wickets in trying to accelerate. We went along, but in the end we had to bat in darkness.''

The final had a messy conclusion.

Sri Lanka's tailenders had to return to the field to play three overs after they had accepted bad light and had effectively conceded they were beaten by Australia.

The confusion was caused by the umpires who told the Sri Lankan captain that his batsmen would have to come back and play the three overs on Sunday.

The Australian players were in the middle of their World Cup winning celebrations when Jayawardene went and talked to Ponting, pointing out the umpires' decision.

Both skippers agreed to resume the match and Ponting brought on his spinners to bowl to Sri Lanka's tailenders.

''At that stage we needed 70 runs in 20 balls, I had already made my call when we accepted the bad light offered by the umpires,'' said Jayawardene.

''The decision to come out and face three overs of spin was a goodwill gesture. I did not want to put my players under grave risk having to face the Australian pace bowlers. Australia deserved the win at the way it played in the final.''

 
 
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