In probably what was the biggest match of the group matches of the ongoing World Cup, defending champs Australia proved to be too good for the Proteas. At the Warner Park, both sides played pulsating cricket. The Aussies emerged the victors by 83 runs in a high scoring skyscraper. The Warner Park in Basseterre in St Kitts was too small a park for the monsters on both the sides.
On a hot and blistering day, Graeme Smith put the World Champs to bat first. The pair of Hayden and Gilchrist wasted absolutely no time in getting on top of Pollock and Ntini. Both these new bowlers were hit out of the attack. Just before the drinks break, Adam Gilchrist was out through a soft dismissal, caught at point off Langeveldt for a run-a-ball 42 which. Hayden followed Gilchrist in another thirty minutes or so which was enough time for him to smash the fastest century in World Cup history. Haydos scored 101 with his century coming in 66 balls with 14 fours and four sixes. Hayden beat Canada’s John Davison’s feat which had come against West Indies in the 2003 World Cup by one ball. Australia were 167 for 2 after 23.3 overs when Hayden was caught once again by Gibbs, this time off Kallis.
The momentum created by the opening batsmen was sustained by a massive stand of 161 in 21.4 overs by Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. Ponting got a run-a-ball 91 powered with 8 fours and two sixes while Michael Clarke got a busy 92 from 75 with 7 fours and 4 sixes. On course of his innings, Ricky Ponting became the 7th player to get past the 10,000 run mark in ODIs; he was only the first Australian to do so. Andrew Symonds tested his operated biceps to score a 13-ball 18 and the Kangaroos made a smashing 377 for 6. All the batsmen made sure that their strike rate was more than 100.00! Shaun Pollock was the target bowler today as he ended with figures of 0 for 83 in 10.
As expected the South Africans were ready for climbing up the mountain. They know how to chase such a tall order and the openers – Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers led the team with a 160-run start in 21 overs with the former being run out from a magical direct throw from the deep from Watson. AB de Villiers played a heroic knock of 92 from 70 balls with 14 fours and two sixes. The momentum was lost when Graeme Smith had to retire hurt due to cramps and in his absence SA lost some quick wickets. Gibbs who was the architect of the World Record Chase of 434 disappointed as he got stumped out for 19 off the bowling of Brad Hogg. Prince fell three runs later to have South Africa at 223 for 3 in the 33rd over.
An erratic Shaun Tait came good with one quick inswinging yorker that hit the base of danger man Mark Boucher’s off stump. Australia never looked back after this wickets fell in a heap. The next four wickets that of Kemp, Graeme Smith, Kallis and Pollock fell in the space of 20 balls with the addition of 15 runs. That was enough for the Aussies to wrap up the Proteas for 294 in 48 overs. Graeme Smith, who had retired hurt on 72 added just two more runs after returning back. His 74 came in 69 balls with 9 fours and 2 sixes. Kallis was slow in getting his 48, taking 63 balls and getting his runs with 5 fours. Nathan Bracken was the stand out bowler on both sides with 2 for 40 in 9 overs. Hogg was the wicket taker with 3 for 61 in his 10 overs. The Man of the Match was Matthew Hayden. The Aussies will be taking two points for the next round with this thumping win.