Aussies sound warning bells with emphatic win
The Aussies, smarting under a five-match losing streak, posted an imposing 334 for six which centred on a majestic ton by captain Ricky Ponting.cricket Updated: Mar 15, 2007 12:50 IST
Australia captain Ricky Ponting displayed dazzling footwork against Scotland on Wednesday to strike a fourth World Cup century and lead the world champions to a 203-run win in their opening Group A match.
Ponting lofted five sixes in his 113 from 93 balls, breaking Indian Saurav Ganguly's previous World Cup record of 23. He also became the sixth person to score 1,000 World Cup runs with his opening boundary, a sweetly timed on drive.
By the end of his innings he had scored a total of 1,111 World Cup runs, second only to another Indian, Sachin Tendulkar.
Glenn McGrath, who needed 11 wickets before the match to overtake Wasim Akram's World Cup record tally off 55, then took three for 14 on a pitch freshened by rain as Scotland succumbed for 131 for nine in reply to Australia's 334 for six.
Opening bowler John Blain did not bat after leaving the field during the Australia innings. Scotland captain Craig Wright told a news conference Blain had strained a calf muscle and was also suffering from a viral condition.
Wright won the toss and decided to field on a steamy, overcast day, a decision which suited Ponting.
"I was going to bat anyway so losing the toss was fine," he said.
Australia openers Adam Gilchrist (46) and Matthew Hayden (60) reunited following the latter's return after breaking his right toe in New Zealand last month to put on 91 for the first wicket.
Relishing a good pitch and the short boundaries at Warner Park, Hayden marched down the pitch to on-drive Paul Hoffman for six in the seventh over. He also hit six fours before he was lbw pushing forward in off-spinner Majid Haq's first over.
Gilchrist had already departed for 46 from 55 balls with seven boundaries, a typically entertaining if somewhat streaky innings.
Ponting survived a chance at 23 when wicketkeeper Colin Smith, standing up to former England one-day all-rounder Dougie Brown, failed to gather a thick edge.
He danced down the pitch to drive Haq and left-arm spinner Glenn Rogers for six in consecutive overs and there were further sixes in consecutive overs from the two spinners as the Australian skipper raced to a century from 85 balls.
Brad Hogg slogged an unbeaten 40 from 15 balls at the end of the innings to help Australia to their imposing tally.
Shaun Tait worked up real pace with the new ball, reaching close to 150 kms an hour and yorking Navdeep Poonia for one after opener Haq had been run out for 16.
"He's coming along nicely," Ponting said. "He will be a really big player in this World Cup."
McGrath forced Fraser Watts, who had a life at three when he was dropped by Shane Watson at second slip off Nathan Bracken, to play on to his off-stump for nine and then dismissed Ryan Watson, skying an attempted hook for Bracken at fine-leg, for six.
He captured a third when Gavin Hamilton (3) edged a perfectly pitched delivery on the line of off-stump to Gilchrist behind the stumps.
"He bowled beautifully today, he's just a great bowler and an utter professional," said Ponting. "We just know what we are going to get from him."
Smith, a burly Grampian policeman who stands upright with his bat lifted high in the air in a manner reminiscent of former England captain Graham Gooch, played some uncomplicated shots on his way to 51 before he was bowled by Hogg to end the match.
First Published: Mar 14, 2007 19:01 IST