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08 December 2023

Ponting left with a headache as Aussies crash

By Reuters

Half centuries by the South African openers set up a surprisingly easy seven-wicket victory over Australia on Tuesday in a World Cup warm-up match giving the holders' skipper Ricky Ponting much food for thought.

Chasing a modest 218 for victory, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith (65 retired) and Hashim Amla (60 retired) survived a barrage of leg before and caught behind appeals by Brett Lee and Shaun Tait early on before settling down to put on 131 runs.

Smith then retired undefeated followed by Amla to give their team mates some batting practice and JP Duminy (47 not out) duly anchored the innings to take his team home inside 45 overs.

Although the match was only a friendly, the result which comes hot on the heels of Australia's 38-run defeat to World Cup hosts India on Sunday will concern Ponting ahead of the tournament opening on Saturday.

In their innings, Australia made 217 all out with Ponting (55) and Michael Clarke (73) top scoring in a 122-run partnership for the third wicket which at least gave them some time at the crease after the two openers were dismissed with just six runs on the board.

In the field, Australia used as many as eight bowlers but the only wicket to fall was by a run-out.

Ponting turned to spin in the 15th over but neither Jason Krejza, Steven Smith nor Michael Clarke could stem the flow of runs or break the opening partnership on the same ground where India's spinners destroyed Australia's middle order on Sunday.