Australia compounded the miseries of rivals New Zealand by notching up a seven-wicket victory in their World Cup match yesterday.
Chasing an easy target of 207 runs for victory, Australia openers Shane Watson (62) and Brad Haddin (55) piled on 133 for the first wicket in just 18 overs as they punished the erratic bowling of New Zealand in the Group A encounter.
The start ensured that there were no hiccups, though both openers departed in the same over to paceman Hamish Bennett.
Captain Ricky Ponting (12) followed soon after, stumped brilliantly down the leg side by Brendon McCullum off Tim Southee.
Vice captain Michael Clarke and Cameron White saw Australia home in just 34 overs with an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 40 to extend their team’s unbeaten World Cup run to 31 matches.
The Kiwi bowlers did not help their cause by bowling 32 extras, which included 29 wides.
The match was played against a somber backdrop following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch earlier this week.
Both teams observed a minute’s silence and wore black arm-bands, while the New Zealand flag flew at half mast in memory of the victims of the earthquake.
Some of New Zealand players struggled to keep their emotions in check as they linked arms while their national anthem was being played before the start of the match.
After the solemn start, the Australian pace duo of Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait vindicated Ponting’s decision to field first by skittling New Zealand for 206.
Overnight rain and a little cloud cover prompted Ponting to bowl first and some fiery fast bowling saw the Kiwis lose their first six wickets with just 73 on the board.
Johnson (four for 33) and Tait (three for 35) shared seven wickets while Brett Lee and Shane Watson also chipped in with a wicket apiece.
Steve Smith was the only spinner to pick up a wicket.
S AFRICA V WINDIES
AFP, NEW DELHI
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy insists his beleaguered side have the potential to beat anyone despite slipping to a demoralizing ninth in the world one-day rankings after their defeat by South Africa on Thursday.
The former kings of the one-day game have not beaten a Test side in a one-day international since June 2009 and went down to a seven-wicket defeat against Graeme Smith’s men in their World Cup opener in New Delhi.
However, a surprisingly upbeat Sammy, whose side is now ranked below Bangladesh, refused to give up hope after the match, backing his players to hit back.
“I think we’ve got to have that self-belief. We know what we are capable of doing and as long as we play to our full potential we could beat any team on the day but we just have to be consistent in our performances,” he said.
Sammy said it was crucial his team made the most of situations when they were on top after the West Indies squandered good positions. They looked strong at 113 for one at one stage and were also well placed at 178-4.
“Before the match everybody was uncertain as to how the pitch would play but looking at it we should have scored 270-plus on the wicket,” Sammy said.
“I think losing the wickets in clusters really hampered our total. We had guys getting starts but they didn’t carry on,” the 27-year-old added.
Sammy also rued missed chances to dismiss Smith and century-maker AB de Villiers in the South African innings.
“We created opportunities but we didn’t capitalize on them and AB de Villiers batted like a senior player and that brought South Africa home,” he said.