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Colombo: Shane Watson and Xavier Doherty delivered the goods as Australia defeated South Africa by eight wickets in the Super Eights at the Premadasa Stadium. But it wasn’t easy, especially at the start.
Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn bottled up the Aussie openers, keeping them on their toes, before David Warner cracked under pressure to the former. The little man made room, swung hard, only to find the full length delivery smashing into his middle stump. So much so, that the first boundary came after 16 deliveries, that too off first change Jacques Kallis. Four runs Shane Watson.
The right-hander soom made it clear that he wasn’t going to keep quiet for long, going after Morne Morkel, who erred by offering too much width. Three fours off the pacer’s third over, and Abraham de Villiers decided to try spin. There was to be no turnaround, as Botha and Peterson bowled short, and were punished promptly by Watson, who simply loves sending the ball to the midwicket fence. 76/1 after 10 overs, and the Aussies were on track after the slow start.
If someone had to stop Man of the Match Shane Watson, it had to be the man himself, as he holed out to Wayne Parnell at long-on, not before smashing Peterson for consecutive fours. With a life in ‘run-a-ball’ mode, Michael Hussey and Cameron White took the Kangaroos home to a comfortable win with 14 balls remaining.
Earlier, Australian skipper George Bailey won the toss, and tossed the ball to Xavier Doherty, who opened up Richard Levi’s defences right away, bowling the opener off just the third delivery of the inning. It was Jacques Kallis’ turn next, as he edged the left-arm spinner to keeper Matthew Wade, playing away from the body as the ball turned away. Trouble, on the double for South Africa.
The sour moments continued as Hashim Amla, came outside the off-stump, trying to hook a delivery that rose on him. First wicket for Shane Watson, second catch for Wade,and third wicket down for South Africa. It didn’t stop there. JP Duminy stepped out to Doherty, missing the ball, as it went between his legs, and into the wicketkeeper’s hands. Stumps dislodged, and batsman No.4 made his way to the dressing room.
Soon after Doherty (3/20) finished bowling his quota of four overs, Proteas skipper AB de Villiers picked opposite number George Bailey at cover, as he tried in vain to attack Watson. Robin Peterson (32) did well to employ the switch hit against Brad Hogg, striking two fours with the improvisation, as he tried to help his side switch gears, with Farhaan Behardien (31) for company. The Aussies allowed the odd hit, but ensured that the opponents batted with their feet on the brakes. However, Peterso cut loose in the final over, hitting three fours in three different directions at the Premadasa, as South Africa finished with 146/5.
It wasn’t enough.