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Australia v South Africa
St Kitts, 24 March 2007

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World Cup Group A, St Kitts: Australia 377-6 (50 overs) beat South Africa 294 (48 overs) by 83 runs

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Matthew Hayden hit the fastest century in World Cup history as Australia won their heavyweight showdown with South Africa by 83 runs in St Kitts.

Hayden raced to three figures off 66 balls and after his dismissal for 101, Ricky Ponting (91) and Michael Clarke (92) carried them to a score of 377-6.

AB de Villiers (92) and Graeme Smith gave South Africa a flying start but Smith had to retire hurt with cramp.

Vital momentum was lost as a result and they were eventually all out for 294.

It was a no-holds barred encounter between the two top ranked one-day sides in world cricket with batsmen on both sides looking to exploit the short boundaries at Warner Park.

And exploit them they did with a total of 17 sixes and 72 boundaries struck during the match, which was in the balance until Smith had to go off in the 26th over of South Africa's reply.

He had opted to put Australia in after winning the toss, a decision prompted by hope that the ball might swing in the early overs as it had during the Netherlands v Scotland game at the same ground on Thursday.

This time, however, the only swinging was done by Gilchrist and Hayden who quickly identified it as a perfect batting surface and treated Shaun Pollock like a raw novice, instead of the world's top ranked one-day bowler, who has 375 wickets to his credit.

Shaun Pollock
Pollock had no answer to the aggression of Australia's batsmen

He was eventually withdrawn after a five-over spell costing 42 runs but the flow of runs continued until Gilchrist tamely diverted a slower ball from Charl Langeveldt to gully and departed for 42.

Ponting came to the wicket with his side on 106-1 and had the luxury of taking a few balls to play himself in as Hayden continued to dominate, hammering Langeveldt over cover for four and then pulling hard over mid-on for another.

Smith decided to try his own off-spin in an attempt to check Australia's progress but Hayden's response was to belt the ball straight back over his head for six, which took him to his century.

It proved to be his last shot in anger as he was caught off Jacques Kallis in the next over, but there was no let-up from Australia as Ponting found a new, and equally positive, partner in Michael Clarke.

The score mounted past 250 and the two batsmen celebrated with a six each in the 37th over, bowled by the tormented Pollock, who eventually completed his allocation with figures of 0-83.

Clarke had another let-off on 56 when he sliced a wide ball to point and Herschelle Gibbs floored a straightforward, if sharp catch, but Ponting was denied his second century of the tournament when a mis-hit off a ball from Ntini ended up in the hands of de Villiers just inches inside the rope.

His dismissal brought Andrew Symonds to the middle for the final few overs and he showed no sign of any discomfort from recent shoulder surgery as he carved his fourth delivery through backward point for four.

Clarke produced one of the shots of the match as he went down on one knee before hoisting Langeveldt over long-on for six but a mix-up with Symonds resulted in him being run out for 92, made from only 75 balls.

AB de Villiers
De Villiers produced some magnificent strokes for South Africa

Symonds was bowled by the last ball of the innings, but Australia had already achieved their highest total in a World Cup match.

Mindful of the fact that they had chased down 434 to beat Australia in Johannesburg last year, South Africa's openers had no time to play themselves in and it was soon time for the Australian bowlers to suffer.

De Villiers hooked Bracken for a first-over six and when Glenn McGrath was introduced as first change, he was hit for three succesive fours.

South Africa raced past 100 in the 14th over and the first wicket partnership was worth 165 when de Villiers was run out by Shane Watson's superb direct hit throw from the deep.

Smith suffered his cramp soon after and with Jacques Kallis unable to maintain the scoring rate, their hopes of victory began to stall.

Spinner Brad Hogg had Herschelle Gibbs (17) stumped and Ashwell Prince pulled a short ball from McGrath straight to deep mid-wicket.

Paceman Shaun Tait then yorked Mark Boucher (22) with a searing inswinger and won an lbw decision against the dangerous Justin Kemp soon after.

Smith returned to the middle but only added two to his score, taking him to 74 before he attempted to sweep Hogg and top edged to keeper Gilchrist.

Their last hope gone, it was just a question of how long Australia would take to wrap things up and the end came off the last ball of the 48th over as Bracken bowled Makhaya Ntini, earning Australia two points to carry forward to the Super 8s.

SEE ALSO
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
22 Mar 07 |  Cricket


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