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September 30, 2009
Australia were the last team to enter the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals but they got there after surviving a scare against Pakistan that had Ricky Ponting chewing his fingernails on the dressing-room balcony. Chasing Pakistan's total of 205, Australia were cruising at 140 for 2. However, they lost six wickets for 47 runs and Brett Lee and Nathan Hauritz ended up scrambling a last-ball bye to scrape a two-wicket victory in Centurion.
"I was chewing my fingers nails up there for the last little bit," Ponting said after the game. "That ended up being closer than I thought was possible. We snuck across the line."
The result left Australia on top of Group A with five points, compared to Pakistan's four, which means they'll face England, the second-placed team in Group B, in the first semi-final in Centurion on Friday. Australia came to South Africa having won a bilateral one-day series 6-1 in England but despite that success Ponting was wary of a resurgent England team.
"We've just come from a really good series against them over there, but it's different conditions here to what we confronted over there and they've been playing some pretty good cricket of late," Ponting said. "We need to get back to the drawing board a little bit and talk about what went wrong in the last part with our batting this afternoon and make sure we don't do that again on Friday.
"As the ball got older it reversed a bit at the end and spun a bit for the spinners too so we were pretty lucky we restricted them to that total. I thought the bowlers in the second half of the innings particularly, did a good job."
Pakistan will face Group B leaders New Zealand in the other semi-final in Johannesburg on Saturday. They will be gunning for their second ICC title this year after winning the World Twenty20 in England in June. "I'm always happy whether you play England, Australia or any team in semi-finals or final it doesn't matter," Younis Khan said. "If you play good cricket then you are the winner."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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