Shamik Das

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hayden blitzes Proteas as holders march on

Matty Hayden smashes Shaun Pollock for a booming six high over the long-on boundary

St Kitts, World Cup, Group A: South Africa 294 (48 overs) lost to Australia 377/6 (50 overs) by 83 runs

Matthew Hayden scored the fastest century in World Cup history to help reigning champions Australia lay down a marker with a crushing defeat of South Africa.

Hayden's 66 ball ton eclipsed John Davison's 2003 knock against the West Indies by just one ball, and was brought up in style with a straight six off Graeme Smith, walloped high over the bowler's head and into the stands.

The Queenslander perished next over, having clubbed 14 fours and four sixes in his 102, and having treated all four South African frontline bowlers with equal disdain, hitting Shaun Pollock for 17 runs off 1 over, Charl Langeveldt for 12, Andrew Hall for 10 and Makhaya Ntini for 9.

Michael Clarke plays an immaculate cover drive  Ricky Ponting drives one through the air  AB De Villiers flays the Australian attack

Assisting Hayden in posting a commanding total were his skipper Ricky Ponting (91 from 91 balls), Michael Clarke (92 off 75) and fellow opener Adam Gilchrist (42 at a run-a-ball), with whom he put on 106 for the opening stand, racing away to 50 inside five overs.

If the South Africans were to have any hope of achieveing what would be a record score for a team batting second in the World Cup they had to get off to a flier, and how - AB De Villiers launching Nathan Bracken for a four and then a six off the first over of the innings.

The opening pair of De Villiers and Smith struck 22 fours and four sixes between them in putting on 160 for the first wicket by the time De Villiers was superbly run out by Shane Watson's direct hit from the long leg boundary in what proved to be the pivotal play of the match.

Graeme Smith receives treatment for cramp on the outfield at Basseterre

Soon after De Villiers's dismissal Smith had to leave the field with cramp, and with the loss of momentum came the loss of wickets - the last nine falling for 74 runs.

Herschelle Gibbs (17) and Mark Boucher (22) tried to inject some urgency back into the chase, smashing a four and a six apiece, but it was too little too late, and by the time Boucher was fourth man out - clean bowled by the lightning fast Shaun Tait for 22 - the rate required had risen to 11 an over from as many overs.

Shaun Tait strains to fire down a typical delivery at speeds of up to 90mph    Mark Boucher trudges off the pitch after getting yorked by Shaun Tait

With Jacques Kallis taking almost two hours to compile an interminably slow 63 ball 48 South Africa's chances of emulating their memorable win at The Wanderers a year ago this month - when the Proteas chased down a world record 438 with one wicket and one ball to spare - had all but disappeared.

Australia win group A and carry the two points won today through to the Super Eights, their superb display of out-cricket proving decisive.


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