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Symonds has repaid Ponting?s faith

On the day Australia decided to go to war in Iraq they were also engaged in a minor skirmish at St. George's Park. The armed forces will hope that their battle is over as quickly as the first semi-final.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2003 02:15 IST

On the day Australia decided to go to war in Iraq they were also engaged in a minor skirmish at St. George's Park. The armed forces will hope that their battle is over as quickly as the first semi-final because once again the Australian pace bowlers headed by Brett Lee demolished a fragile Sri Lankan batting line-up.

This fiery bowling performance followed yet another exhibition of scrambling at St. George's Park from all the Australian batsmen bar one.

Andrew Symonds is at the World Cup because his skipper requested his presence. The talented all-rounder has repaid Ricky Ponting's faith by twice scoring heavily when his team was in trouble. The big difference between the assured Symonds at the World Cup and the jittery batsman we'd seen so many times previously is a calm and thoughtful approach to each innings.

Earlier, he used to regularly try and smash balls out of the park with brute strength. Now, he's calmly utilising his power to beat fieldsmen by hitting the ball along the ground.

Sure, he still occasionally hits the ball in the air but when he does it's controlled and his one six in a glorious innings of ninety one not out was a huge on-drive off the bowling of Aravinda de Silva. This innings was a huge test for Symonds. He came to the crease with Australia in trouble at 51/3 and it was obvious his patience was going to be tested by the cagey Sri Lankan spinners.

He resisted all their temptations, only attempting shots he was capable of playing safely and that still leaves him with a wide range. His strongest support came from Darren Lehmann a good player of spin bowling and this liaison added ninety three for the fourth wicket. Once again Australia's Achilles heel was exposed and the Sri Lankan spinners were snapping away like enraged terriers. The spinners bowled 32 overs for a haul of 115/4 on a pitch that was by no means loaded in favour of the tweakers.

Despite being harassed by the slower bowlers Australia showed why they have remained undefeated in this tournament, battling their way to a score they had previously defended at this ground.

For that they can thank Symonds and he must be grateful the skipper retained faith in his talent. In contrast, Australia employed Lee's pace as a battering ram and after a promising start the Sri Lankan batting slid to oblivion faster than a Himalayan avalanche.

Lee found his rhythm in the match against New Zealand at this same venue, then followed it with a hat-trick against Kenya, and again, he bowled at a blistering pace against Lanka. (TCM)

First Published: Mar 21, 2003 02:15 IST