S S Ramaswamy
Mumbai, Feb 7 (PTI) If World Cup soccer is synonymouswith Brazil, the cricketing extravaganza has always epitomisedAustralian domination.
Both these countries possess a proud record in thetournament considered the showpiece of their respective sportsand are also widely tipped as the teams to beat even when theydon''t appear to be in the best of form in the run-up to themega event.
An unprecedented three Cup titles on the trot (and fouraltogether) and a fourth successive one beckoning in thetournament commencing at Dhaka on February 19, make Australiastand tall though their aura of invincibility has taken abeating in recent times.When Ricky Ponting and his men take the field againstZimbabwe at Ahmedabad''s Motera Stadium on February 21 to starttheir bid for a fourth straight crown, they would go into theCup history with a phenomenal unbeaten run stretching back tonearly a dozen years.
The four-time champions and six-time finalists werepreviously beaten in a Cup encounter by Pakistan at Hedgingly,Leeds on May 23, 1999 before they went on to win their secondcrown on June 20, by avenging that defeat in the summit clash.
After the loss to Pakistan, Australia had won 28 matchesand tied one against South Africa (in the 1999 semi-final) andthe stupendous run has given them three successive crowns, twoof them under the captaincy of Ponting who is now striving fora hat-trick. .