Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Ruthless Australia seems unstoppable at World Cup

AP , BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

West Indies fans celebrate a Brian Lara boundary during the completion of the World Cup Cricket Super Eight match against Australia at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in St. John's, Antigua, on Wednesday. Australia won by 103 runs.

PHOTO: AFP

Australia's charge toward a third World Cup title in a row looks unstoppable.

Even Brian Lara couldn't prevent Australia's 103-run victory over the West Indies on Wednesday, and South Africa emerged as the most likely challenger by beating Sri Lanka by one wicket in a thriller where Sri Lankan bowler Lasith Malinga took four wickets in four balls.

Australia, however, already beat South Africa by 83 runs in group play and the South Africans are officially the No. 1 ranked one-day team in the world.

"It's not worrying me at the moment that we've not had any close games," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said after his team bowled the West Indies out for 219 in Antigua in reply to its 322 for six.

"We've played decent cricket since the moment we arrived here. The games we've had so far have been fantastic games and we've set really high standards for ourselves. Our batting in each game has just got better and better," Ponting said.

Despite Lara's 77, it was another easy victory for the Australians, who have scored more than 300 runs in each of their four victories.

The victory put them atop the Super Eights standings with four points and five round-robin games to go. Sri Lanka and West Indies, despite their losses, are level on two points with South Africa and New Zealand.

In Wednesday's other Super Eights match, South Africa appeared to be cruising to victory before Malinga's amazing burst.

Chasing a modest 209 all out, the South Africans were 206 for six with plenty of overs left. But Malinga, who has a wild, slinging action, dismissed Shaun Pollock for 13 and Andrew Hall for zero on the last two balls of his eighth over. He then had Jacques Kallis caught behind for 86 and bowled Makhaya Ntini on the first two balls of his ninth over.

That left South Africa needing three runs from 21 balls with the last two batsmen at the crease. Robin Peterson edged the ball for four to complete a victory with 10 balls to spare.

"That was a pretty stressful last five overs, geez!" said South Africa captain Graeme Smith, who contributed 59.

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