World Cup

Cricket World Cup 2003: Australia Wins the Championship on the Trot

The 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup was the eighth edition of the pinnacle 50-over tournament. From February 9 to March 23, 2003, it was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. This year’s World Cup was the first to be held in the African continent.

The tournament featured 14 teams, the most in World Cup history at the time, which competed in 54 matches. The system was similar to the one used in the 1999 edition, with teams divided into two groups and the top three from each group qualifying for the Super Sixes stage.

Australia eventually won the tournament, winning all 11 of their matches and defeating India in the final at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Now, let’s see how the 2003 World Cup progressed.

The Build-Up


The 2003 World Cup format included 14 teams divided into two groups of seven, with the top three from each group qualifying for the Super Sixes stage and carrying through their points against other qualifiers from their group. The top four Super Six teams advanced to the semi-finals, and the winners of those matches competed in the final.


A total of 15 venues across South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya hosted 54 World Cup matches. 13 South African venues hosted 46 matches combined; 2 venues from Zimbabwe hosted 6 games, while Nairobi Gymkhana Club from Kenya hosted 2 matches. Port Elizabeth and Durban played host to 2 semi-finals, while Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg hosted the final match.


The 2003 World Cup included 14 teams, which at the time was the most ever seen in a Cricket World Cup. Apart from 10 full members, Kenya, Namibia, Canada, and the Netherlands qualified for the event.

Teams that participated in the 2003 Cricket World Cup:

  • Australia
  • England 
  • India 
  • New Zealand 
  • Pakistan
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • West Indies
  • Zimbabwe
  • Bangladesh
  • Kenya
  • Namibia
  • Canada
  • Netherlands


The former champions, Australia, and the hosts, South Africa, were the favourites for this World Cup.

2003 World Cup Group Matches

Match 1: February 09 | South Africa vs West Indies

In the opening game, the hosts, South Africa, took on the two-time world champions, the West Indies. The Windies batted first and posted 278/5 on the scoreboard. In response, South Africa came close to victory; however, they lost the match by 3 runs as they were docked one over due to a slow over-rate.

Match 2: February 10 | Zimbabwe vs Namibia

Craig Wishart’s unbeaten 172 off 151 balls took Zimbabwe to a huge total of 340 runs. During Nambia’s chase, the rain interrupted the match in the 26th over and didn’t resume further, resulting in Zimbabwe winning the match by 86 runs through the DLS method.

Match 3: February 10 | New Zealand vs Sri Lanka

Batting first, Sri Lanka lost an early wicket; however, captain Sanath Jayasuriya (120) and Hashan Tillakaratne (81*) steered the innings and went on to post 272 on the board. In response, New Zealand’s Scott Styris (141) didn’t get much help from other batters, and Sri Lanka won by 47 runs.

Match 4: February 11 | Australia vs Pakistan

Riding on Andrew Symonds’ unbeaten 143 off 125 balls, Australia managed to score 310 runs in 50 overs. Then Ian Harvey (4 wickets) and Brad Hogg (3 wickets) strangled the Pakistani batting lineup, helping Australia win by 82 runs.

Match 5: February 11 | Bangladesh vs Canada

In a game that saw bowlers from both sides dominate the batters, Canada triumphed over Bangladesh by 60 runs. Canada elected to bat first and managed to post 180 runs. In defence, Austin Codrington picked up a 5-fer, dismissing Bangladesh for 120 runs.

Match 6: February 12 | South Africa vs Kenya

Except for Ravi Shah (60), no other batter gave a fight from Kenya as a result they were bowled out for a mere 140 runs. While chasing, South African openers had no trouble as they cruised to the target with 10 wickets in hand.

Match 7: February 12 | India vs Netherlands

The Netherlands’ bowler Tim de Leede (4 wickets) produced a performance to remember against India, restricting them to 204 runs. However, the brilliant bowling performance went in vain as India knocked out the Dutch batters for 136 runs and won the match by 68 runs.

Match 8: February 13 | Zimbabwe vs England

England forfeited the match, and Zimbabwe won by default.

Match 9: February 13 | West Indies vs New Zealand

With valuable contributions from middle and lower-order batters, New Zealand managed to score 241 runs in 50 overs. Despite Ramnaresh Sarwan’s 75 and Ridley Jacobs’ 50, the Windies fell short by 20 runs.

Match 10: February 14 | Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh

Chaminda Vaas’ breathtaking 6-wicket haul, along with Muthiah Muralidaran’s 3 wickets, bundled the Bangladeshi side on 124 runs. Sri Lanka chased down the target rather easily with 10 wickets to spare.

Match 11: February 15 | Australia vs India

The Australia pace trio Brett Lee (3 wickets), Jason Gillespie (3 wickets), and Glenn McGrath (1 wicket) overpowered the Indian batting lineup and bowled them out for a meagre 125 runs. While chasing, the Indian bowlers didn’t create much trouble for Australia and they won by 9 wickets.

Match 12: February 15 | Kenya vs Canada

Sparing a few batting performances, Canadian batters didn’t put up a fight against the Kenyan bowlers and scored 197 runs. While chasing, Kenya lost an early wicket, but that didn’t stop them from winning the match by 4 wickets.

Match 13: February 16 | England vs Netherlands

Apart from Tim de Leede (58*), other batters couldn’t stand in front of the English bowling attack and the Netherlands scored 142/9. During the chase, England faced a few jolts, but they chased down the target with 6 wickets to spare.

Match 14: February 16 | Pakistan vs Namibia

Despite losing wickets at the fag end of their innings, Pakistan managed to post 255 runs on the board, thanks to crucial contributions from the top and middle-order batters. In response, the Namibian batters had no answer to the sheer pace of Wasim Akram (5 wickets) and Shoaib Akhtar (4 wickets) and Pakistan won by 171 runs.

Match 15: February 16 | South Africa vs New Zealand

Herschelle Gibbs’ 143 took South Africa’s total to 306/6 in 50 overs. New Zealand’s captain Stephen Fleming (134*) was leading from the front in the chase; however, three rain interruptions reduced the match to 39 overs and the target was revised to 226 runs. The Kiwis chased down the target in the 37th over with 9 wickets in hand.

Match 16: February 18 | West Indies vs Bangladesh

Bangladesh elected to bowl first and restricted the Windies to 244/9 in 50 overs. During Bangladesh’s chase, rain interrupted the match in the 9th over. Eventually, the game was called off with both teams earning 2 points.

Match 17: February 19 | Zimbabwe vs India

Sachin Tendulkar’s 81 helped India post a total of 255/7 in 50 overs. In response, Zimbabwe’s opening batters failed; their middle and lower order kept the fight going, but India managed to win the game by 83 runs.

Match 18: February 19 | Sri Lanka vs Canada

Prabath Nissanka (4 wickets) and Chaminda Vaas (3 wickets) skittled the Canadian side for just 36 runs, the lowest total in the World Cup history. Sri Lanka chased down the total in the 5th over with 9 wickets to spare.

Match 19: February 19 | England vs Namibia

After being invited to bat first, England managed to score 272 runs in 50 overs. Jan-Berrie Burger (85) fought from Namibia in the chase but it wasn’t enough and England won by 55 runs.

Match 20: February 20 | Australia vs Netherlands

In a 36 overs per side game, Australia posted 170/2 on the scoreboard. In response, the Netherlands was skittled on 122 runs and Australia registered a win by 75 runs.

Match 21: February 21 | New Zealand vs Kenya

New Zealand forfeited the match, and Kenya won by default.

Match 22: February 22 | South Africa vs Bangladesh

Makhaya Ntini (4 wickets), along with Shaun Pollock (2 wickets) and Andrew Hall (2 wickets), wreaked havoc on the Bangladeshi batting lineup, bowling them out for a mere 108 runs. South Africa, then chased down the target in 12 overs and won the match by 10 wickets.

Match 23: February 22 | England vs Pakistan

England won the toss and decided to bat first. The English side went on to score 246 runs in 50 overs. The Pakistani batters were clueless in front of a young James Anderson, who scalped 4 wickets, helping England win by 112 runs.

Match 24: February 23 | West Indies vs Canada

John Davison’s quick knock of 111 runs off 76 deliveries enabled Canada to post 202 runs on the scoreboard. But the target wasn’t too big for the Windies batters as they chased it down in the 21st over with 7 wickets to spare.

Match 25: February 23 | India vs Namibia

Riding on the back of a superb 152 from Sachin Tendulkar and 112* from captain Sourav Ganguly, India posted a huge score of 311 on the board. Tendulkar and Ganguly stitched together a solid partnership of 244 runs for the second wicket, making it one of the highest in ODI World Cup history. Meanwhile, the target was mammoth for Namibia and they were troubled from the start by the Indian bowlers as a result India won by 181 runs.

Match 26: February 24 | Sri Lanka vs Kenya

The Sri Lankan bowlers took regular wickets, restricting Kenya to a total of 210/9. However, Kenya pulled off a major upset in World Cup history and defeated the 1996 champions by 53 runs.

Match 27: February 24 | Zimbabwe vs Australia

After electing to bat first, Zimbabwe scored a decent total of 246 runs. In response, Australia faced no major troubles and registered a victory by 7 wickets.

Match 28: February 25 | Pakistan vs Netherlands

Mohammad Yousuf’s 58 runs took Pakistan’s total to 253/9 in 50 overs. The Pakistani bowlers left no stone unturned, bowling the Netherlands on 156 runs and Pakistan won by 97 runs.

Match 29: February 26 | New Zealand vs Bangladesh

Bangladesh decided to bat first; however, they could only post 198/7 on the board. Craig McMillan’s 75 made the chase easy for New Zealand and the Kiwis won by 7 wickets.

Match 30: February 26 | England vs India

Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat first. His men in blue managed to post a fighting total of 250/9 on the scoreboard. Later, Ashish Nehra rattled through the English side, picking up 6 wickets for 23 runs, helping India win by 82 runs.

Match 31: February 27 | Australia vs Namibia

Batting first, Australia posted a huge total of 301 runs in 50 overs. Then, Glenn McGrath produced the best bowling figures in the World Cup history (7/15) as he ran through the Namibian side, helping Australia register an astounding win of 256 runs.

Match 32: February 27 | South Africa vs Canada

Boeta Dippenaar’s 80 runs took South Africa to a score of 254 runs. In response, Canada could only manage to reach 136/5 in 50 overs and South Africa won by 118 runs.

Match 33: February 28 | Zimbabwe vs Netherlands

The Netherlands elected to bowl first; however, the decision didn’t go well for them as Zimbabwe smashed the Dutch bowled and scored 301/8 in 50 overs. In reply, the Netherlands was restricted to 202/9, resulting in Zimbabwe winning by 99 runs.

Match 34: February 28 | Sri Lanka vs West Indies

In a closely contested game, Sri Lanka posted a decent total of 228 runs on the board. While chasing, the Windies batters struggled and lost the match by 6 runs.

Match 35: March 01 | Kenya vs Bangladesh

Kenya sprung another surprise in the 2003 World Cup by defeating Bangladesh. Batting first, Kenya scored 217 runs, thanks to Maurice Odumbe’s unbeaten 52 runs. Later, Maurice Odumbe showcased his all-round skills with the ball by picking up 4 wickets and helping Kenya win by 32 runs.

Match 36: March 01 | Pakistan vs India

Saeed Anwar’s 101 powered Pakistan to a score of 273 runs in 50 overs. In response, Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 off 75 balls made the chase easier, helping India beat the archrivals with 6 wickets in hand.

Match 37: March 02 | Australia vs England

England elected to bat first; however, they could only manage to score 204 runs as Andy Bichel (7/20) produced a mindblowing bowling performance for Australia. Later, Andrew Caddick (4/35) did trouble the Australian batting lineup, but Michael Bevan’s 74* runs ensured a 2 wicket win for Australia.

Match 38: March 03 | New Zealand vs Canada

New Zealand won by five wickets

Match 39: March 03 | Namibia vs Netherlands

Feiko Kloppenburg’s 121 and Klaas-Jan van Noortwijk’s 134* took the Netherlands total to 314 runs. Both built a 228-run partnership for the second wicket, which is the highest for the Netherlands in World Cup. Namibia got off to a good start with crucial contributions from the batters; however, they lost bunch of wickets in the end and Netherlands won by 64 runs.

Match 40: March 03 | South Africa vs Sri Lanka

After electing to bat first, Sri Lanka posted 268 runs, thanks to Marvan Atapattu’s 124 runs. Due to rain interruption, the target was revised to 230 runs in 45 overs. The match dramatically ended in a tie as South Africa could only score 229 runs in 45 overs.

Match 41: March 04 | Zimbabwe vs Pakistan

The match could only see 14 overs bolwed due to rain interruptions and ended in no result.

Match 42: March 04 | West Indies vs Kenya

The Universe Boss Chris Gayle’s 119 runs took the West Indies total to 246 runs. In response, Kenya was bowled out for 104 runs and West Indies won by 142 runs.

Super Six

Match 1: March 07 | Australia vs Sri Lanka

After deciding to bat first, Australia posted 319 runs, thanks to Ricky Ponting’s captain’s knock of 114 runs. In reply, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 223 runs, resulting in Australia winning by 96 runs.

Match 2: March 07 | India vs Kenya

Kenya won the toss and decided to bat first. Kennedy Otieno 79 helped Kenya post 225 runs on the board. While chaseing, captain Sourav Ganguly led from the front by scoring an unbeaten 107 runs, helping India win by 6 wickets.

Match 3: March 08 | Zimbabwe vs New Zealand

Heath Streak’s 72* helped Zimbabwe reach a fighting total of 252/7 in 50 overs. In response, New Zealand didn’t face much troubles and registered a win by 6 wickets.

Match 4: March 10 | India vs Sri Lanka

In a one-sided game, India posted 292 runs on the board. Later, Ashish Nehra troubled the Sri Lankan batters, helping India India win by 183 runs.

Match 5: March 11 | Australia vs New Zealand

Shane Bond’s 6-wicket haul restricted the Australian side to 208 runs. Then Brett Lee came up with his 5-wicket haul, skittling the Kiwis for 112 runs and Australia won by 96 runs.

Match 6: March 12 | Zimbabwe vs Kenya

Zimbabwe decided to bat first; however, the decision didn’t materialise in their favour as Kenya bowled Zimbabwe for 133 runs. Kenya won the match by 7 wickets and booked their place in the semi-finals.

Match 7: March 14 | India vs New Zealand

Zaheer Khan (4 wickets), along with other Indian bowlers, kept the New Zealand batters in check and bowled them out for 146 runs. Later, Mohammad Kaif’s 68 helped India won by 7 wickets.

Match 8: March 15 | Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka

Marvan Atapattu’s 103 runs took Sri Lanka to a total 256 runs in 50 overs. In response, Zimbabwe was bundled out for 182 runs and Sri Lanka won by 74 runs.

Match 9: March 15 | Australia vs Kenya

After being asked to bat first, Kenya managed to score 174 runs. Later, Australia chased down the target in the 32nd over and won the game with 5 wickets to spare.

Knockout Stage

1st Semi-Final: March 18 | Australia vs Sri Lanka

Australia brought on 212/7 against tight Sri Lankan bowling on a tricky, slow pitch in Port Elizabeth, but largely thanks to a brilliant performance from Andrew Symonds (91*), confirming captain Ricky Ponting’s faith in him once more. Chaminda Vaas collected 3 wickets to continue his outstanding performance.

The Australian pace attack then ripped through Sri Lanka’s top order, with Brett Lee (3/35) and Glenn McGrath (1/20) collecting 3 early wickets. By the time rain arrived in the 39th over, sustained tight bowling had reduced Sri Lanka to 123/7, considerably short of the Duckworth-Lewis total. The match couldn’t resume, and Australia won by 48 runs.

2nd Semi-Final: March 20 | India vs Kenya

Kenya’s story as the only non-test-playing nation to reach a World Cup semi-final came to an end. Sachin Tendulkar (83) and Sourav Ganguly (111) batted India out of the game as India reached 270/4.

The formidable Indian seam attack of Zaheer Khan (3/14), the veteran Javagal Srinath (1/11), and Ashish Nehra (2/11) ripped through Kenya’s top order under the Durban lights. Kenya was bowled out for 179, with just Steve Tikolo (56) putting up a fight.

Final: March 23 | Australia vs India

India won the toss and decided to field in an effort to take advantage of a pitch that had been wet from dew and rain. Batting first, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden gave Australia a great start, scoring 105 runs in 14 overs in their opening stand. Ricky Ponting then hammered a brilliant 140* off 121 balls with 4 fours and 8 massive sixes to lift Australia to a huge 359-2 in 50 overs.

Sachin Tendulkar, who had a terrific tournament up until that point, carried 1 billion hopes on his shoulders. However, Glenn Mcgrath’s mistimed draw in the first over nearly shattered a billion dreams. Virender Sehwag’s 82 (81) provided some resistance, but India was eventually swept out for 234.

That match also gave rise to absurd rumours such as Ponting having a spring in his bat, the World Cup being shared, a rematch, and so on.

Special Moments in the Cricket World Cup of 2003

Zimbabwe and Kenya Face Security Challenges that Lead to the Biggest Upsets

Before the tournament, there was some worry about the security and political situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the appropriateness of playing there given the sins of Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. Two Zimbabwean players, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, wore black armbands in their first game to protest Zimbabwe’s nondemocratic rule.

England received intense domestic pressure to boycott their match in Zimbabwe on political grounds, and they refused to participate, citing concerns for the players’ safety. The boycott proved costly, as Zimbabwe advanced to the Super Sixes only two points ahead of England, thanks to the walkover. Similarly, New Zealand chose against playing in Kenya due to security concerns, which cost them a semifinal position.

Shane Warne Failed a Drug Test

Shane Warne, Australia’s star player, was sent home from the tournament in humiliating circumstances just one day before their first game after a positive drug test in the lead-up to the competition revealed that he had taken a banned diuretic. According to the leg spinner, he took a ‘fluid pill’ at the suggestion of his mom.

South Africa Suffers in the Rain

South Africa has a strained connection with the World Cup. Despite fielding some of the finest players, they have yet to win the ultimate prize. Sometimes it’s because they’ve been outplayed, but on more than one occasion, it’s because they’ve come up short themselves, most notably on home soil in 2003 when they got their Duckworth-Lewis calculations wrong and left the pitch with a tie rather than a win against Sri Lanka. Shaun Pollock never recovered as captain, and the chokers regained control.

Canada Suffers with the Lowest Score In World Cup History 

Sri Lanka has traditionally been the team to bowl out the opposition for modest scores. This time, Canada had to deal with the heat as Sri Lanka humiliated the second-time World Cup entrant, Canada, with the lowest-ever score in World Cup history. 

Chaminda Vass got 3 wickets and Prabath Nissanka took 4 as the Canadian team was bowled out for 36 in 18.4 overs. The Canadians’ batting resembled an 11-digit cellphone number that read ‘9 0 0 1 0 9 0 6 6 0 0‘.

There were no double-digit scores in the innings, with 9 being the highest. In response, Sri Lanka chased the target with 272 balls to spare.

Some Records

The only team to have won 3 World Cups is Australia. Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan also established a world record, becoming the quickest bowler in cricket history with a top speed of 161.3 km/h (100.23 mph) in a pool match against England.

Final Thoughts

The 2003 Cricket World Cup will always be remembered as a competition of enormous significance in the history of cricket. It was a display of talent, fervour, and sportsmanship that united nations and captivated spectators throughout the world.

It was a cricket spectacle to remember thanks to Australia’s victory, India’s valiant effort, and the outstanding individual performances of the players. In addition to being a turning point for the sport, the 2003 World Cup also created a lasting legacy, motivating future generations of cricket players and spectators and serving as a constant reminder of the unifying nature of the game.

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