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Australia crush South Africa by 8 wickets to all but guarantee Semi-final spot

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shane_watson_batAustralia picked up their second straight win of the Super Eights against a haphazard South African side in Colombo on Saturday evening to all but book a place in the semi-finals of the ICC World T20. The Aussies sit atop Group 2 and will need three results to go against them including a massive defeat for themselves to prevent them from taking a well deserved spot in the last four, an unlikely occurence. South Africa were far from their best today, doing well to reach 146-5 in their 20 overs after having found themselves 86-5 at one stage. Australia though made light work of the target with Shane Watson following up his 2-29 effort with the ball to score 70 from 47 balls to guide his side to victory. Mike Hussey also chipped in with a useful unbeaten 45 while Xavier Doherty was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-29. 

With their backs against the wall in a do or die encounter in Colombo on Sunday afternoon, South Africa were under the cosh early having lost the toss and been put into bat. Xavier Doherty, called up to the Australian squad for this game in place of Daniel Christian, was given the new ball and rewarded the management's faith in his ability by picking up a wicket in each of his first two overs, dismissing Richard Levi for naught and getting the big fish Jacques Kallis for 6.

Australia picked up a bonus wicket late in the powerplay with Hashim Amla falling caught behind to Shane Watson for 17. South Africa ended the powerplay in deep trouble at 34-3.

JP Duminy and AB de Villiers rescued the innings briefly with the former making 30 from 25 balls before being out smarted by Doherty when he gave the left-arm spinner the charge. AB de Villiers failed to fire today, caught at short cover for 21 from 24 balls.

At 86-5 in the 15th over South Africa looked out of the contest, but an excellent 60 run parnership between Farhaan Behardien (31* from 27 balls) and Robin Peterson (32* from 19 balls) rescued the Proteas and kept the game interesting.

A good opening spell from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel kept the pressure on the Aussies with Morkel removing David Warner for 5 in his second over. Shane Watson though continued to be in spectacular form, racing to yet another half-century in 35 balls. Mike Hussey provided the perfect foil for Watson at the other end, keeping the powerful allrounder on strike by collecting singles at will.

Watson, fortunate to get a reprieve when Parnell dropped a tough chance at long-off off Peterson fell to the same combination having contributed a crucial 70 to his team's cause.

At 109-2 in the 14th over there was still a little work to be done to see Australia home, and Mike Hussey and Cameron White were just the men to do it, taking their side to a comfortable victory with 14 balls to spare. Hussey remained unbeaten on 45 when White chipped in with a cameo 21 from just 13 balls, a short knock which will no doubt give the former skipper some confidence.

While South Africa are not out of the tournament yet, their hopes are pegged on India beating Pakistan in the second game and then two more results going their way, only one of which they have any control over. Australia meanwhile are all but through to the semi-finals with their two big margins of victory all but assuring them of a knockout berth.


Australia: S Watson, D Warner, M Hussey, M Wade, C White, G Bailey, G Maxwell, B Hogg, M Starc, P Cummins, X Doherty

South Africa: H Amla, R Levi, J Kallis, AB de Villiers, J Duminy, F Behardien, W Parnell, J Botha, R Peterson, D Steyn, M Morkel

Mini Scorecard:

South Africa 146-5 (20 overs, 7.30rpo)
R Peterson 32* (19) X Doherty 3-20
F Behardien 31* (27) S Watson 2-29

Australia 147-2 (17.4 overs, 8.32rpo)
S Watson 70 (47) M Morkel 1-23
M Hussey 45* (37) R Peterson 1-41

Australia win by 8 wickets with 14 balls to spare

File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee