Shamik Das


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sweet sixteen for Ponting as McGrath inspires holders to crushing win with record breaking haul

Glen McGrath gives the thumbs-up to the crowd after breaking the record for most World Cup wickets

Antigua, World Cup, Super Eights: Australia 106/0 (13.5 overs; max 22) beat Bangladesh 104/6 (22 overs) by ten wickets

Glen Donald McGrath broke Wasim Akram's record for most World Cup wickets today with a typically clinical display of line and length, claiming 3 wickets in 16 balls to set his team up for an easy, unflustered win.

The defeat of Bangladesh was also Australia's sixteenth World Cup win in a row under Ricky Ponting's leadership, and 23rd match unbeaten in the competition - stretching back to 23rd May 1999 - as well as their 400th one-day international success.

"Pigeon", as the 37-year-old McGrath is affectionately known to his colleagues, began his historic spell by yorking Shahriar Nafees for 1 to equal Wasim's mark.

And McGrath only needed six more balls before breaking the Pakistan all-rounder's record in his next over - thanks to a spectacular catch by Nathan Bracken, leaping high in the air to dismiss Aftab Ahmed for 11.

Glen McGrath holds aloft the match ball in commemoration of his feat    Glen McGrath celebrates with his teammates after dismissing Aftab Ahmed to break Wasim Akram's record and become the most prolific bowler in World Cups

Then came the prized scalp of Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful - well caught by his opposite number for 6 - as McGrath finished with figures of 5-0-16-3, with 57 World Cup wickets to his name.

The crowd at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium were lucky to see any cricket at all, heavy overnight rain and a sodden outfield delaying the start for five hours and reducing the 100 over contest to a Twenty20 style thrash.

Having been set only 105 to win the Aussies cantered to victory with 49 balls to spare, Adam Gilchrist (59* off 44 balls) and Matthew Hayden (47* off 39) picking off the runs with ease.

"We are playing well, and it was another good game today, but it's only early days and we have to keep improving," said Ponting.

"We knew Bangladesh would come at us early on but the bowlers hit their spots and did a good job. The batsmen have been in form and they just played properly and hit the gaps.

"We've been playing well ever since the warm-up matches in St Vincent. We wanted to carry that through to the tournament and we have done that.

"But it's still early days. We have to make sure we keep it going for the next few weeks."

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