Watson key to SA defeat

2012-10-01 00:00

SHANE Watson struck a superb 70 off 47 balls to put Australia on the brink of the World Twenty20 semi-finals after a crushing eight-wicket win over South Africa at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo yesterday.

The allrounder, who earlier shone with the ball by taking 2/29, blasted two sixes and eight fours in his innings and shared in a telling 99 run partnership with Michael Hussey (45 off 37 deliveries) to help their side chase down the 147 victory target with 14 balls to spare.

Earlier it was spin bowler Xavier Doherty who ripped through the Proteas’ top order to leave them in all sorts of problems. The slow left-armer ended with career-best figures of 3/20 and it was only due to a late injection of urgency from Robin Peterson (32 off 19) and Farhaan Behardien (31 off 27) that the Proteas reached a total of respectability.

However, it proved too easy for the Australians as they collected a second win of the Super Eights stage to edge closer to qualification.

Gary Kirsten’s men began their innings in the worst possible fashion after losing the toss and being asked to take first strike.

Doherty’s third delivery was straight, but Richard Levi’s attempted drive was hopelessly missed and his stumps disturbed without troubling the scorers. It was a sixth single figure score for the opener in just his 10th T20I outing.

Jacques Kallis (6) came in at number three and struck one boundary, before pushing forward to Doherty and edging to keeper Matthew Wade, leaving the Proteas on 8/2.

Hashim Amla then struck Doherty for a magnificent six over extra and the shackles appeared to have been broken, but the in-form batsman was out in the sixth over when his attempted pull off Shane Watson took a faint edge on its way to Wade for 17 off 15.

AB de Villiers and JP Duminy tried to rebuild with a 31-run partnership, which included taking their side past 50 in the ninth over.

Duminy struck four boundaries in his innings before he was beaten through his legs by a flighted delivery as he charged down to Doherty and was stumped by Wade for 30.

Captain De Villiers seemed to be waiting for the right moment to cut loose, but it never came as he fell for 21 when he thumped Watson (2-29) straight to George Bailey at extra cover. That was in the 15th over, with the Aussies in total command after no boundaries had come since the ninth over.

But the relatively unknown Behardien struck the first soon after the departure of his skipper and Peterson also cut loose with a series of switch hits and pulls to get South Africa up to a competitive total, their partnership worth an unbroken 60.

Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel gave South Africa a solid start with the ball as just 10 came from the first three overs, while the first ball of the fourth accounted for the dangerous David Warner (5), bowled by the latter.

But it was one-way traffic from there on as Watson and Hussey took control.

Morkel’s next over went for 15, including three fours that were all struck by Watson, while 10 and 12 came from the two overs that followed as the Australians surged past 50 in the eighth over.

The runs continued to flow with the 50 partnership between Watson and Hussey coming from just 28 deliveries, 39 of those runs coming via the bat of the superlative opener.

Watson brought up his 10th T20I half-century from 35 balls when he pulled Wayne Parnell over deep square leg, before he was handed a let-off by the same Proteas player in the field.

Peterson was the bowler and a skied ball towards Parnell running in from long-off was grassed, the fielder seemingly taking too long to get into position.

Watson was eventually out in the 14th over, in which he struck two boundaries off Peterson, before lifting straight to Parnell at long-on.

It was just a run per ball needed from there on in and Cameron White (21 off 13), provided good support to Hussey as they raced home with over two overs to spare.

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