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Ponting elated as Aussies enter semis

cricket Updated: Apr 14, 2007 19:01 IST

IANS
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Captain Ricky Ponting is delighted with his side's form after it clinically demolished Ireland to become the first team to advance to the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup.

"We've achieved what we've wanted to achieve so far in this tournament, especially out of today's game. That should do wonders for our run rate," Ponting said after Australia's nine-wicket win Friday.

With two Super Eight, or second round, matches still to be played, the champions have set the stage as they look for a hat trick of titles.

Australia first bundled out minnows Ireland for 91 in 30 overs, with fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shaun Tait taking three wickets apiece. Then, Australia made 92 for the loss of Adam Gilchrist's wicket in 12.2 overs for an easy win.

Ponting, 32, repeated that the aim was to remain unbeaten in the campaign. He added that he was especially impressed with the players' ruthlessness, and said they will continue to dominate weaker teams.

"It was a good performance today. It was nice to win the toss and make use of a pretty lively wicket early on," he said. "Tait got some early breakthroughs, McGrath did very well and the batting was pretty good to finish things off."

The victory was Australia's 25th straight in World Cup competition that dates back to a 10-run defeat to Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup in England.

"I think we've got a good record over the years of stringing together consecutive wins, whether it be Test matches or one-day cricket," said Ponting, who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup title in 2003 in South Africa.

"We've got a very good run going at the moment. I couldn't be happier with where a lot of the guys are at with their one-day skills. It's just about our attitude being right for the rest of the tournament. I think you're going to see us play some very good cricket."

Australia reached their destination when left-hander Mike Hussey, promoted to open the batting, hooked a short ball from Boyd Rankin over mid-wicket and deep into the new Greenidge & Haynes Stand.

Hussey remained unbeaten on 30 and Andrew Symonds was not out on 15, after Trent Johnston, the Australia-born Ireland captain, gave his side their only success with the ball, when he bowled left-hander Gilchrist for 34 in the ninth over.

Fortune had smiled on Gilchrist on 31, when wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien dropped a leg-side catch off Rankin in the eighth over.

Gilchrist collected three of his four boundaries in Dave Langford-Smith's third and final over before Johnston replaced him.

Gilchrist drove the fourth and fifth balls through widish mid-off, and when the medium-fast bowler strayed a little wider, he stroked the final delivery through cover for another four before Johnston dismissed him with a perfectly pitched delivery that moved back between bat and pad.

Andrew Symonds entered and either side of Bray dropping a difficult overhead chance at mid-off off John Mooney, he pulled the same bowler over mid-wicket for four and lofted a straight drive for six to hasten the end.

Earlier, Australia emphasised their dominance to ensure Ireland would have to look elsewhere for their first points of the Super Eight.

Ponting won the toss, chose to field, and their bowlers generated flattering bounce from the hard, helpful Kensington Oval pitch.

Ageless veteran McGrath was the pick of the Aussie bowlers with three wickets for 17 runs from seven overs, which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. His pacy new-ball partner Tait collected three for 39 from six overs.

Only three Irish batsmen got into double figures - John Mooney led the way with 23, Johnston scored 17, and Kevin O'Brien made 16.

Ireland suffered an immediate setback, when McGrath bowled opener Jeremy Bray for one in the first over.

Tait snared two wickets off successive balls in the fourth over to deflate Ireland. He had William Porterfield adjudged lbw for one, and bowled Niall O'Brien off the inside-edge for a first-ball duck to leave the ICC Associate side on two runs for three wickets.

Things got progressively worse for the Irish, when Eoin Morgan was caught at first slip for a duck off McGrath to leave them on 12 for four.

Andrew White came to the wicket and combined with Kevin O'Brien to add 20 for the fifth wicket in the best stand of the innings before he was caught at mid-off for six lobbing McGrath's slower ball to Brad Hogg.

When O'Brien was caught at mid-wicket for 16 flicking Tait shoulder high to Brad Hodge, Ireland were 42 for six, and offered only token resistance after this.

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