World Cup 2003 was one of the most memorable World Cups for the Indian fans even though India didn’t eventually manage to win the title and was beaten by Australia by a massive margin in the final.
The reason why the tournament was so memorable for India was because the men in blue didn’t have a great start in the first couple of games and then they went on an absolute roll till Australia put brakes on them in the final.
However, it was not just the Indian players who put on quality performances in the tournament. The players of the other teams set the stage ablaze as well, particularly the Aussies.
Here is the best XI of World Cup 2003 –
Openers (Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist):
Tendulkar was the highest run-scorer in the tournament and it was really unfortunate that the master blaster didn’t finish the tournament with the World Cup title. He dominated the entire tournament and scored 673 runs at an average of 61.18.
Gilchrist was one of the very few players in the tournament who played with a strike rate of more than a run a ball and despite playing so aggressively, the left-hander was still very consistent as he scored a total of 408 runs averaging over 40.
Middle Order (Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly, Damien Martyn):
Ricky Ponting delivered for Australia when it mattered the most as his innings of 140 runs in the final against India is still considered as one of the best World Cup innings of all time. Ponting batted India completely out of the game with a brutal onslaught in the final.
Sourav Ganguly scored three centuries in the World Cup 2003 and although two of his centuries came against Kenya and one against Namibia, all those games were very important from India’s point of view. The second game against Kenya was actually the semi-final of the tournament.
Damien Martyn looked in great nick in most of the games that he played and got past the 50-run mark four times in the tournament including the final as well where he put on a double hundred partnership with his captain Ricky Ponting.
All-rounders (Andrew Symonds, Scott Styris):
Symonds set the tone for Australia in their very first game of the tournament against Pakistan where he remained unbeaten on 143 and made sure Australia had a winning start to their campaign.
Symonds, thereafter, scored a couple of more half-centuries going further in the tournament and also, chipped in with the ball for the Aussies whenever required.
Scott Styris batted very aggressively in the middle order for New Zealand and he was another player whose strike rate in the tournament was more than 100. Styris scored 268 runs in 8 games with a hundred and a fifty and also turned out to be useful for the Kiwis with his medium pace bowling.
Bowlers (Chaminda Vaas, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan):
Vaas, Lee and McGrath were the top 3 wicket-takers in the tournament with 23, 22 and 21 wickets respectively.
Vaas troubled the openers with his swing early on, while McGrath was very accurate with the new as well as the old ball.
Brett Lee was approaching the peak of his career in 2003 and he just blew the batsmen away with his pace.
Muttiah Muralitharan was the highest wicket-taker among the spinners. The Sri Lankan off-spinner grabbed 17 wickets in 10 games at a bowling average of 18.76.