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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Australia use heavy roller to crush South Africa

The World Cup semi-final at St Lucia was decided in the first few overs.

South Africa, after winning the toss and batting, crumbled to 5/27 in the face of some sharp, varied and hostile quick Australian bowling. The lower order effected a modest revival but never truly got the measure of the Australian attack (except for some Shane Watson overs) and crawled to 149 all out from 43.5 over; far less than everyone (even the Australians) would have expected at the start of the innings, but better than seemed possible from the depths of 5/27.

As usual when there's a collapse the causes were a combination of good bowling and poor batting, though to my eyes the Australian bowling was far too good for the techniques and mental approaches of the South Africans. Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath bowled an almost impeccable line and length (an exception was when McGrath strayed outside off stump yet Ashwell Prince was enticed into chasing the ball and edged it to Adam Gilchrist). Shaun Tait bowled a few wide and wild balls but was consistently menacing (at least while bowling: his dropping a simple outfield catch from Justin Kemp was the poorest piece of Australian cricket in the game), while Brad Hogg bewitched, bothered and bewildered everyone he bowled to. He must be candidate for a place in the Test team.

Prince aside, the top order South Africans seemed determined to come out fighting. In fact they, in particular Graham Smith and Jacques Kallis, chose the wrong balls to advance to and were made to look foolish when they were bowled.

Australia lost an early wicket, and Ricky Ponting was bowled, to the surprise of me and the TV commentators for 22, but Matthew Hayden (41/60b) and Michael Clarke (60 no/86b) led their team to a convincing 7 wicket win in the 32nd over.


As usual , I recommend the Cricinfo stats summary by S Rajesh and H R Gopalakrishna .

The final

Most people would, I think, agree that the two best teams of the tournament will play off in the final. Who will win? At the moment I'd say Australia. Why? I 'll leave that for another time.

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