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SA crash and burn out of WC
25 Apr 2007
By: Zac Gelman

Australia raced through to the World Cup finals in extraordinary circumstances after they destroyed the Proteas in convincing fashion by seven wickets.

The build up to the match was immense. The record breaking epic in Johannesburg was not long ago and the memories of the 1999 semi-final would have still been lingering in the players minds. However only one side showed up to the Beausejour Cricket Ground. The invincible Aussies.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, South Africa came in with a clear game plan - attack at all costs. It failed abysmally. With swing and seam movement, Bracken got the vital breakthrough as captain Graeme Smith charged down the pitch only to have his off stump removed in emphatic fashion. Gone for a mere two runs.

Much was made in the media during the week, when Ricky Ponting expressed his wish to have premier batsman Jacques Kallis in at the crease early on, to slow down the run rate. In what might be looked back as a brilliant tactic by the Australian skipper, Kallis sought to attack early. Perhaps it was to silence his critics, perhaps it was to prove a point to Ponting, but he paid the price. Glenn McGrath, as good a bowler as ever at the ripe old age of 37, in his second last international match, had Kallis yorked, sending him back to the pavilion for just five runs.

With Ponting looking to inflict further damage, he turned to the sheer pace of Shaun Tait and was immediately rewarded, removing the remaining opener AB de Villiers for a paltry 15. de Villiers who has had a mixed World Cup, nicked the ball straight to Gilchrist and the South African top order were in disarray. But the worst was yet to come.

The next over was a horrendous one for South Africa as the ever-reliable McGrath removed Prince and Boucher in successive deliveries. With all the hype generated for this match, South Africa were currently on 5-27 and 438 seemed like a long, long time ago.

Gibbs started about the rebuilding process with some fine driving fours, but he wasn't able to capitalise on the start, falling for 39 after looking solid. Tait was the man to take the vital wicket for the Australians.

Australia made easy work of the lower order as Hogg weaved his magic, mesmerising the South Africans. It was all over soon afterwards, as the Proteas capitulated for just 149 runs in less than 44 overs, only Kemp providing any resistance, finishing on a respectable 49 not out. It was South Africa's lowest ever score in a World Cup and in a semi-final to boot.

All the Australian bowlers performed brilliantly, Tait took an impressive four wickets, whilst McGrath extended his lead as the most successful bowler in this World Cup and World Cup history, with three wickets for a measly 18 runs. Bracken, Hogg and Watson also chipped in with a wicket each with only Watson getting hit around, late in the innings.

In reply, Australia had little trouble chasing down the target although they didn't get off to the best of starts when opener Adam Gilchrist was bowled in the second over to a beautiful delivery from Charl Langeveldt.

Ricky Ponting, who has had a superb World Cup, played for a classy 22 before also being bowled, this time by Andre Nel.

Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke made easy work of the remaining score although Hayden wasn't able to last out the innings, when he was caught in the deep by Smith after trying to get a move on. The wind playing a decisive factor between a boundary and his eventual dismissal for 41.

Clarke played a calm and collected innings for his 25th ODI fifty to see his side over the line by seven wickets.

Australia now face Sri Lanka in the final of the World Cup, just one win away from championship glory. For South Africa on the other hand, the soul searching begins now. Coming into the World Cup, there were high expectations on the Proteas, but they have failed to deliver on the centre stage, yet again.

South Africa 149 (43.5 overs)
Justin Kemp 49*, Herschelle Gibbs 39.
Shaun Tait 4-39, Glenn McGrath 3-18.

Australia 3-153 (31.3 overs)
Michael Clarke 60*, Matthew Hayden 41.
Shaun Pollock 1-16, Andre Nel 1-31.

Australia won by seven wickets

Cricket Web Player of the Match Shaun Tait 4-39

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