Waugh paves path past New Zealand

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The Independent Online
Cricket

ROBERT WINDER

reports from Madras

New Zealand 286-9 Australia 289-4 (Australia win by six wickets)

There has been a lot of talk during this World Cup about the relative merits of Lara and Tendulkar, but the way Mark Waugh is batting is starting to make that look like a side issue.

When he went to the crease in Madras yesterday, Australia were at the top of a very slippery slope. By the time he was out, the team's travel agent was already booking hotel rooms in Chandigarh for the semi-final.

He picked up his third century in five innings (110 in 102 balls) to become by some way the heaviest run-scorer of the tournament (472 in five knocks), as well as the first man ever to harvest three tons in one tournament. It is not an accident: his what's-the-hurry demeanour conceals a crushing variety of strokes. Batting has rarely been made to look easier. Apart from anything else, he showed once again that the ante has been upped in this World Cup: on these pitches, and given today's ultra-positive batting methods, no total short of 300 is safe.

After winning the toss, New Zealand obviously decided to throw the bat early on, and they nearly threw in the towel while they were about it. Craig Spearman took 12 off the first over, but then he and Nathan Astle both took big swipes at away swingers, and New Zealand were 16 for 2.

Most sides would have tried to dig in after these setbacks, but New Zealand kept their feet down. Lee Germon and Chris Harris, promoted up the order to maintain the scoring rate, struck out with something like glee. The hundred came up in the 16th over, and Australia started to sweat.

There were misfields, overthrows, a few no balls and, when Steve Waugh started bad-mouthing Germon, it was clear that the fielding side was feeling the strain.

The crowd started calculating when the 300 would come up, but New Zealand foundered. Harris finally succumbed to fatigue and cramp for 130, and it should have been a match-winning performance. But the tail did not wag, and New Zealand finished with a target (287) that was imposing but not impossible - particularly not with Mark Waugh around.

Australia began nervously. Nash opened up with a maiden, and the first 10 overs produced just 35 runs. And when Ponting was out in the 20th over for 24, Australia pressed the panic button by sending in Shane Warne to slog. Mark Waugh, meanwhile, moved with not the least fuss to his fifty - he looked almost bored.

Shane Warne had not bowled with his usual fizz (10 overs for 52) but he made up for it with his batting. He hoisted Thomson for two successive sixes, was dropped by Dipak Patel, middled a couple more and was out for 24, having put on 45 in four overs. Mark Waugh took control and, by the time he was out, caught in the deep for 110 off 102 balls, Australia were within one deep breath of victory. His twin brother Steve saw the side home with a powerful half-century, and two overs to spare.

(New Zealand won toss)

NEW ZEALAND

C M Spearman c Healy b Reiffel 13

N Astle c Healy b Fleming 1

*L K Germon c Fleming b McGrath 89

S P Fleming c S R Waugh b McGrath 8

C Z Harris c Reiffel b Warne 130

R G Twose b Bevan 4

C L Cairns c Reiffel b M E Waugh 4

A C Parore lbw b Warne 11

S A Thomson run out 11

D N Patel not out 3

Extras (lb6, w3, nb3) 12

Total (for 9, 50 overs) 286

Fall: 1-15, 2-16, 3-44, 4-212, 5-227, 6-240, 7-259, 8-282, 9-286.

Did not bat: D J Nash.

Bowling: Reiffel 4-0-38-1; Fleming 5-1-20-1; McGrath 9-2-50-2; M E Waugh 8-0-43-1; Warne 10-0-52-2; Bevan 10-2-52-1; S R Waugh 4-0-25-0.

AUSTRALIA

*M A Taylor c Germon b Patel 10

M E Waugh c Parore b Nash 110

R T Ponting c Sub b Thomson 31

S K Warne lbw b Astle 24

S R Waugh not out 59

S G Law not out 42

Extras (b1, lb6, w3, nb3) 13

Total (for 4, 47.5 overs) 289

Fall: 1-19, 2-84, 3-127, 4-213.

Did not bat: M G Bevan, I A Healy, P R Reiffel, D W Fleming, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Nash 9-1-44-1; Patel 8-0-45-1; Cairns 6.5-0-51-0; Harris 10- 1-41-0; Thomson 8-0-57-1; Astle 3-0-21-1; Twose 3-0-23-0.

Lara leads the way, page 27

World Cup update

QUARTER-FINALS (yesterday): West Indies (264 for 8) bt South Africa (245) by 19 runs; Australia (289 for 4) bt New Zealand (286 for 9) by six wickets.

SEMI-FINALS: Tomorrow: India v Sri Lanka (at Eden Gardens, Calcutta). Thursday: West Indies v Australia (at Punjab Association stadium, Chandigarh, India).

FINAL: Sunday 17 March: (at Gaddafi stadium, Lahore, Pakistan).

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