Australia won by 83 runs against South Africa in the World Cup Group A match at Warner Park in St Kitts on Saturday. Chasing a target of 378 runs, South Africa were skittled out for 294 runs in 48 overs.
The battle among giants saw many highs. Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting became the 7th man to join the 10,000 ODI club. Mathew Hayden entered the record books for hitting the fastest century in the World Cup history. He capped the Man of the Match award for his astounding performance.
South African skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and invited the opponents to bat first. Smith and AB de Villiers paired to pile 162 runs for the first wicket partnership. However, the middle order failed to capitalise on this lead as wickets fell like ninepins.
Australia's score of 377 runs was so far, the third highest World Cup total.
South Africa innings
Skipper Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers led a run riot to dissipate the opponents in all corners of the park. Shane Watson provided some solace to his fretting side, packing off century-nearing de Villiers. The batsman fired 92 runs off 70 balls before he was run out. Jacques Kallis was the next man in.
In the 24th over, de Villiers came in as the bye runner for Smith, who was severely cramped. But, the captain failed to go beyond a ball after that and retired hurt at 72. Herschelle Gibbs was the replacement.
In the 32nd over, Gilchrist was lucky to stump Gibbs (17) off Hogg's delivery. Next, Glenn McGrath dismissed Ashwell Prince for a mere score of three runs. The required run rate kept on scaling as Shaun Tait nailed three key wickets in quick succession.
He first removed 'dangerman' Mark Boucher for 22 runs. His next victim was Justin Kemp (1). Smith came back to his side's rescue, when things had become too difficult if not impossible - South Africa needed 114 off 55 balls. But, the skipper did not last long on the crease as he fell to Hogg's delivery after adding just two runs to his previous score of 72. The match was all but over.
Brad Hogg struck back to uproot Kallis at 48, while Watson and Bracken dismissed Pollock (7) and Langeveldt (0) respectively. Bracken brought triumph for Australia, when he packed Ntini in the last delivery of the 48th over.
After a frenetic start by openers Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden, South African pacer Langeveldt removed the former for 42. The duo completed a successful partnership of 106 runs.
Hayden made a mark by registering the fastest-ever century in World Cup history off just 66 balls. But, the batsman fell to Kallis' delivery in the 24th over.
Later, Ponting and Clarke paired together to steer their side to a mammoth total. Gibbs dropped a chance to break the partnership as he let the ball slip off his hands naively in the 40th over. They scored 161 runs between them before Ntini packed off Ponting.
The Aussie skipper failed to complete his century, hitting 91 off 91 balls. But, he became the seventh batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs. The other six are - Sachin Tendulkar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Sourav Ganguly, Sanath Jayasuriya, Rahul Dravid and Brian Lara, all of them featured in this World Cup.
Clarke followed him back to the pavilion when he was run out at 92 off just 75 balls in the 47th over. Next to return was Hussey, off Andrew Hall's delivery. In the last delivery of the innings, the bowler dismissed Andrew Symonds, who was back in the team to play his first World Cup match.
The last few wickets, though, fell in quick succession but it was all too little and too late for South Africa.
South Africa kept the same side which beat Scotland in their last match on Tuesday, while Australia brought back all-rounder Andrew Symonds in place of Brad Hodge from their line-up which beat the Netherlands.
Symonds was cleared to play after last month's arm surgery kept him out of the game for nearly one month. He was playing his first match in the World Cup.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist, Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince.