Brief history of cricket World Cup finals between 1996-2011, as Australia ruled the tournament clinching a treble of titles.
1996, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, with the explosive Sananth Jayasuriya at the top of the order and Muttiah Muralitharan bewitching opposing batsmen with his prodigious powers of spin, proved worthy champions.
The Sri Lankans had demonstrated before the tournament that they could chase down totals previously thought beyond reach and they exploited the fielding restrictions at the start of the innings by attacking from the first ball.
Aravinda da Silva, their most accomplished batsman, scored an assured unbeaten century in the seven-wicket win over Australia in the final in Lahore.
1999, England, Wales and Scotland
Australia, the world’s best test side, were in danger of elimination in the group stages and again in the Super Six round where 120 not out from captain Steve Waugh, dropped on 56 by Herschelle Gibbs, ensured victory over South Africa.
Then, in a semi-final between the same teams, South Africa needed only one run with four balls remaining in the final over with their best one-day batsman Lance Klusner on strike. A panicky runout tied an epic match which put Australia through by virtue of their superior run rate in the previous round.
Australia made no contest of the final against Pakistan, taking barely 4-1/2 hours to overwhelm the 1992 champions.
2003, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya
Australia’s new one-day captain Ricky Ponting struck eight sixes in his 140 not out in the final against India as his team scaled new heights with a relentless 125-run victory.
The Australians became the first team to win three World Cups and took their unbeaten run in the tournament to 16.
England refused to play in Zimbabwe, whose two leading players Andy Flower and Henry Olonga wore black armbands when they played against Kenya to protest against “the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe.”
2007, West Indies
Australia, fresh from a 5-0 Ashes series win over England, systematically destroyed all opposition throughout the Caribbean, finishing with victory over Sri Lanka in a rain-shortened final at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Adam Gilchrist bettered Ponting’s record tally in a final with a typically audacious 149. Two other Australian giants, Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath, were the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker respectively.
The tournament was overshadowed by the death of popular Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer at the age of 58 in his hotel room in Jamaica after his team had unexpectedly lost to Ireland. Police launched a murder investigation which led nowhere and a jury later returned an open verdict.
2011, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
Pakistan were also selected as one of four co-hosts but were stripped of their matches because of security fears following the attack on the touring Sri Lankan team in 2009.
Australia, rebuilding their team, missed the final for the first time since 1992 as India and Sri Lanka met in the decider, pitting Sachin Tendulkar against Muttiah Muralitharan.
Mahela Jayawardene scored an unbeaten 103 in Sri Lanka’s challenging 274-6 but India recovered from a slow start to win by six wickets with 10 balls to spare with Gautam Gambhir making 97 and India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni an unbeaten 91. India became the first country to win the cricket World Cup final on home soil.