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South Africa begins well, surrenders meekly

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TURNING POINT: Shane Watson ran A.B. de Villiers out to break South Africa's 160-run opening-wicket partnership. Photo: AP
TURNING POINT: Shane Watson ran A.B. de Villiers out to break South Africa's 160-run opening-wicket partnership. Photo: AP

Australia scores an 83-run win, carries two points to Super Eight

  • Ponting completed his 10,000 runs in ODIs - 10,083 at an average of 42.90.
  • He is the first Australian to accomplish this feat
  • Ponting, with 27 sixes, now holds the record for most sixes in the World Cup.

    Basseterre (St. Kitts), March 26: Australia showed who's the real number one by crushing South Africa for a 83-run victory in the World Cup Group 'A' cricket one-dayer here on Saturday.

    Three-time champions Australia, who recently lost their status as world's top one-day team to South Africa, put up a commanding performance to round off their group engagements and move into the Super Eight with an all-win record.

    Put in to bat, the Australians rode on a record-breaking hundred by Matthew Hayden to post a mammoth 377 for 6 before containing the Proteas to 294 in 48 overs at Warner Park.

    Hayden led the Australian run-fest with a 68-ball 101, while skipper Ricky Ponting (91) and Michael Clarke (92) sustained the assault with aggressive half-centuries.

    The Australian total was the third highest in World Cup matches, after India's 413-5 against Bermuda earlier in the tournament and Sri Lanka's 398-5 against Kenya in 1996.

    Hayden brought up his century off 66 balls, one less than what Canada's John Davison needed against the West Indies in South Africa four years ago, for the fastest hundred in World Cup history.

    South Africa, who last season successfully chased Australia's 434 for 4 at home, were set for an encore when they were placed at 220-1 in the 32nd over.

    Captain Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers gave the world's top side the perfect launchpad with a 160-run opening stand, but the rest of the batting failed to stand up to the task.

    Both the teams had already booked their berth in the 'Super Eight', but Australia will now carry two points into the second stage, while South Africa none.

    Hayden hammered 14 fours and four sixes as he bludgeoned the South African bowling.

    Adam Gilchrist hit an equally aggressive 42 from as many balls and provided the launchpad for the middle-order with an intimidating opening partnership of 106 runs with Hayden.

    The duo tore into the South African bowling and were particularly severe on the most experienced Shaun Pollock who was taken to the cleaners in his first three overs which averaged nearly 10 an over.

    Ponting and Clarke then put on 161 runs for the third-wicket stand to continue the pulverising of the Proteas' attack.

    South Africa clearly missed a spinner as the seamers were consistently thrashed all over the park.

    Hayden imposed himself on the bowlers, his trademark "walk and whack" six followed by a stand and deliver stuff off Pollock marking his domination of the rivals.

    Only Jacques Kallis and Charl Langeveldt had a semblance of economy in their bowling, thanks to their ability to vary the pace and cut the ball both ways.

    Yet, the sluice-gates were truly thrown open in the closing stages as 89 runs came from the last 10 overs. The South African chase began on a strong note with AB de Villiers and Smith going after the Aussie bowling hammer and tongs.

    The 50 came in 36 balls and the 100 in the 13.1 overs, and the usually competitive Australians' shoulders began to drop. De Villiers used the pace of express bowler Shaun Tait to stroke boundaries on either side of the wicket.

    Smith at the other end used his muscle power to twice hit Glenn McGrath into the stands. - PTI.

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