Australia v South Africa, World Twenty20, Colombo September 30, 2012

Watson carries Australia to victory again


Australia 147 for 2 (Watson 70) beat South Africa 146 for 5 (Peterson 32*, Doherty 3-20) by 8 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Shane Watson has carried Australia in every match of this tournament and has now all but muscled them into the semi-finals with another outstanding all-round performance against South Africa. Watson picked up two wickets to help restrict South Africa and then crunched 70 from 47 balls to set up their successful chase of 147, as the Australians cruised to victory with 14 balls to spare.

The South Africans were lacklustre with the bat and sloppy in the field, and while the result has not yet knocked them out of the tournament, they will need other results to fall their way if they are to progress to the semi-finals. For that to happen, Pakistan would need to lose to both India and Australia, and South Africa would need to beat India and then hope their net run-rate was good enough to sneak them ahead of Pakistan and India.

By the same token, the win has not technically confirmed Australia's place in the semi-finals, but their very strong net run-rate meant that for them to miss out, not only would India need to beat both Pakistan and South Africa but Australia would also need a disaster in their last match against Pakistan. The way Watson is playing, such an outcome seems about as likely as Simon Taufel being drafted in to Australia's XI.

For the fourth time from Australia's four games in this World T20, Watson was Man of the Match. He ended the game on top of the tournament run tally and wicket list. It didn't all go the way of the Australians early in their innings this time around. David Warner was kept quiet and then on 5 had his middle stump knocked back by Morne Morkel when he backed away and tried to release the pressure. Australia were 10 for 1 in the fourth over, and South Africa had a sniff.

But Watson batted precisely as he had to. He picked up the first boundary of the innings in the fifth over when he cut viciously for four off Jacques Kallis' first ball, and then plundered three boundaries off the next over from Morkel. Watson was away, and it didn't take long before he was really heaving, lifting Robin Peterson over midwicket for six and pulling Wayne Parnell for six to bring up his half-century.

By that stage, South Africa could not afford a single mistake, and they made one when Watson, on 52, skied Peterson and was put down by Parnell running in from long-off. Eventually Watson fell - caught by Parnell at long-off from the bowling of Peterson, oddly enough - but by then he had added another 18 runs and put Australia within sight of victory.

Michael Hussey kept the runs coming - a lofted six over wide long-on from the bowling of Parnell was especially impressive - and South Africa couldn't find a way to pick up the wickets they needed to slow Australia's run-rate. They could have had one when Hussey advanced to Peterson and the ball skidded through, but AB de Villiers fumbled what should have been a straightforward stumping.

There were no more chances and Cameron White brought up the win with six over midwicket off Johan Botha. It was the fifth six of Australia's innings; South Africa had managed only two in their disappointing batting display. That they reached 146 for 5 was only through a late flurry from Peterson; they had threatened a much lower score earlier in the innings as the batsmen struggled to find the boundary.

The first six of the innings came in the third over when Hashim Amla drove Xavier Doherty over cover and the second - and last - six didn't arrive until the 19th over when Farhaan Behardien clubbed Pat Cummins over long on. But it was Behardien's partner Peterson who gave the Australians a slight scare, finding six boundaries during his 32 not out from 19 balls.

He was especially creative against Brad Hogg, reverse-sweeping and reverse-pulling for boundaries, and he even produced a reverse off-drive. In fairness, the way the South Africans had batted up until then reversing everything probably wasn't a bad ploy. Peterson also picked up three boundaries in the final over, including a lap over his shoulder and away to fine leg off Mitchell Starc as 28 runs came from the last two overs.

Behardien finished on 31 not out but he was surprisingly unwilling to go for big strokes, given South Africa still had five wickets in hand. Perhaps he was still being over-cautious after South Africa's poor start.

Australia's decision to include Doherty for his first match of the tournament at the expense of the allrounder Daniel Christian, and then to open the bowling with him, paid off immediately after George Bailey sent South Africa in. Richard Levi was bowled from the third ball of the game when he backed away and tried to force Doherty through the off side and the ball skidded through.

Doherty struck again in his second over when he tossed the ball up and found some turn off the pitch and Jacques Kallis (6) edged behind. Amla departed for 17 when he tried to hook Watson and gloved behind, and at 33 for 3 the South Africans were in trouble. JP Duminy and de Villiers steadied somewhat, though without really taking the bowlers on, as they chipped a few runs here and there.

But when Bailey brought Doherty back on for another spell he immediately broke the partnership. From the first ball of Doherty's third over, Duminy (30) advanced down the pitch and Doherty (3 for 20) sent the ball between his legs to allow an easy stumping from Matthew Wade. That was followed by the wicket of de Villiers, who drove to cover off Watson for 21, and again South Africa were in a spot of bother.

They were in much more trouble when Watson was batting. And South Africa left the field knowing that by the end of the day they could be knocked out of the tournament. For now, their fate was in the hands of Pakistan and India.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on October 3, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    @Hammond - I disagree. I think you'll find that most good batsmen would be more than capable of batting without a lid on. I think lids have only really aided the bowling allrounders and tail enders as they are the ones who normally don't play the short ball convincingly, yet with protection on, it's a much safer gamble. You don't make it anywhere near this level as a batsman if you can't get inside the line. Also, if you look back, I think you'll find that a lot more batsmen would allow the shorter stuff through to the keeper. With the shorter formats of the game now, you can't allow short stuff to go by, so a lot of players are quite comfortable hooking and would still do so without helmets if they were banned.

    Also, I'm pretty certain it's not a prerequisite to play for England that your birth certificate was produced within their lands...

  • Andrew on October 3, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    @Hammond on (October 03 2012, 02:20 AM GMT) - no, I suppose YOU wouldn't!

  • Geoffrey on October 3, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    @Meety- don't see the humour? Since when was a births deaths and marriages document funny? @ScottStevo- I disagree mate players pre covered picthes and helmets had to learn to play the hook properly or get hit. No-one in my time since maybe Lara plays the proper getting the head inside the line hook shot. The don't really have to because they wear all the right gear. These blokes probably wouldn't even attempt the shot without a lid. And That is my entire point. Watson would have no idea without a helmet on.

  • Andrew on October 2, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    @OzzyHammond on (October 02 2012, 11:18 AM GMT) - " Australian birth certificate and passport." - classic!

  • Scott on October 2, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    @Hammond, There are still plenty of players capable of hooking and playing short deliveries properly, and again, Watson seems to be one of those who does keep his eye on the ball. There are certainly still b@llsy players out there as well. Do you recall Flynn having his tooth knocked out by Anderson and walking into the blood soaked crease was Ross Taylor. After seeing that and his surroundings, he still stepped inside Anderson and hooked - and well too...

    All players wear helmets so techniques have evolved, some good, some bad. The equipment item that really needs looking into is the acutal bats themselves that these guys are using. In the Aus vs WI match that was washed out, guys were getting leading edges whilst trying to hit full deliveries through mid wicket and they were going for six over mid off...

  • Geoffrey on October 2, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @Meety- I never even remotely insinuated that I was up there. But is anyone today as good as a McCabe, a Hammond or a Macartney? Hardly. Not fit to lick their boots. And I can't play for England. I've got an Australian birth certificate and passport.

  • Andrew on October 2, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    @OzzyHammond on (October 02 2012, 02:22 AM GMT) - "..these modern batting fairies.." - regardless there still a million times better than you. If you were any good - you would of played for England by now!

  • Geoffrey on October 2, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    @ScottStevo- Are you saying you can't tell the difference between a proper back foot hook shot and the modern "prop all the way onto the front foot and then transfer the weight when you slog across the line" version? You tube Rohan Kanhai or Alvin Kallicharran and watch the real thing and compare. Take the head protection away from these modern batting fairies and they would be like watching Under 10's playing the short ball for the first time. No technique whatsoever, relying on the chest guard, arm guard and helmet to keep them out of trouble.

  • Andrew on October 1, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    @ScottStevo on (October 01 2012, 12:02 PM GMT) - well said. I would only instruct bowlers to bowl short to Watto to get him back in the crease to then ping him with an lbw from a pitched up delivery. He does not get out to the short stuff & is quite lethal against it poor technique or not! @JG2704 on (October 01 2012, 12:33 PM GMT) - sometimes it really it isn't worth explaining the obvious flaws in someones comments. If they didn't get the problem the first time, nothing you'll do will shed any light on it the second time for the blessed souls!

  • Peter on October 1, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    @Hammond. I been playing for a little longer than you, & still opening the batting, looking foward to this weekend, but I wear the lid simply due to the edged shot into the face. Fielding at short leg recently, I gathered a stack of teeth & blood from an edged shot into the face & figured, so with the age factor coming in, I might take the safe option. That said, playing the hook short for all those years, have never been sconned yet. Agree totally that today's batsmen have poor technique in the hook & pull execution & would be in serious trouble without the lid on.

  • No featured comments at the moment.