The legends turned it on, fans came in droves, and the Bushfire Cricket Bash in Melbourne was a grand success, raising more than $7.7m for the communities devastated by the bushfires. In the end, it was the Ricky Ponting XI that triumphed over the Adam Gilchrist XI, by a solitary run.
Cricket royalty – and many legends from other sports – showed up on Sunday afternoon at Melbourne's Junction Oval to help build at least some parts of Australia that have been ravaged by the fires. Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, Yuvraj Singh, and Wasim Akram — all among the greatest to play the game — were involved, and they delivered, too.
In the end, it was the side led by Ponting that came out on top, having notched up 104 for five in the 10 overs batting first. Lara, who was made to retire at 30, was perhaps the standout performer on both sides — those lofted cover drives and straight drives echoing his genius. The skipper, himself, entertained by scoring 26 from 14 balls. Meanwhile, 16-year-old NSW star Phoebe Litchfield batted alongside both legends – even hitting a couple of cover drives that rivalled Lara's.
During the innings break, Tendulkar faced an over from current cricketers Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland, flicking the first of the six through fine leg for four.
During the run chase, Shane Watson bullied Akram and Co with a nine-ball-30. His skipper Gilchrist hit his first ball for six, while Andrew Symonds clubbed a few sixes over long-off with his son watching on from the dugout. In the end, Dan Christian kept NRL great Cam Smith and AFL champ Nick Riewoldt from winning it in the final over.
Apart from the almost eight million dollars raised, it is expected that the money for the fire-affected communities will continue to pour in as more auctions are to follow.
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