x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Relief for Shane Watson as he makes up for fielding lapse

All-rounder rues dropped catch of Chris Gayle but is thrilled to score match-winning knock in rain-shortened World Twenty20 match against West Indies.

Shane Watson hit three sixes and two boundaries off the West Indies bowling at the R Premadasa Stadium last night. Philip Brown / Reuters
Shane Watson hit three sixes and two boundaries off the West Indies bowling at the R Premadasa Stadium last night. Philip Brown / Reuters

Australia qualified for the Super Eights round and South Africa earned bragging points as rain ruined two key matches in the World Twenty20 today.

Australia beat the West Indies by 17 runs according to the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain cut short the group B game that appeared headed for keen finish in Colombo.

South Africa outplayed hosts Sri Lanka by 32 runs in a group C match reduced to seven-overs-a-side in Hambantota due to rain.

The match held only academic interest since both South Africa and Sri Lanka had already qualified for the next round with wins over Zimbabwe, the third team in the group.

Australia, chasing a challenging target of 192, were 100-1 in 9.1 overs when heavy rain forced the match to be called off in front of 18,000 fans at the Premadasa stadium.

The Aussies, who were ahead of the par score of 83 at that stage, recorded their second successive win following a seven-wicket win over Ireland on Wednesday.

The West Indies and Ireland will clash on Monday, with the winner taking the second Super Eights spot from the group.

The weather ruined a keen finish with Australia edging ahead, needing 92 more from 65 balls with nine wickets in hand.

David Warner hit 28 in an opening stand of 30 with Shane Watson, before Mike Hussey joined Watson to add 70 in 42 balls for the unbroken second wicket.

Watson, who was unbeaten on 41 off 24 balls with three sixes and two boundaries, was declared the man of the match.

Hussey made 28 not out with three fours and a six.

Earlier, the West Indies posted 191-8 following attacking half-centuries from Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.

Left-handed Gayle smashed 54 off 33 balls and Samuels plundered 50 from 32 balls after the West Indies elected to bat in their first match of the tournament.

Sri Lankan fans were treated to a flurry of strokes as Gayle hit four sixes and five boundaries and Samuels chipped in with four sixes and three fours.

"The weather ruined a very exciting game," said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. "Everybody was looking forward to it.

"The batsmen did what was required of them. We knew Australia would come back hard, but we took too long to respond."

Australian captain George Bailey was relieved at gaining full points from the match.

"There was some good stuff but there was some ordinary stuff as well," he said. "The challenge is to lessen the gap between the good and the ordinary stuff.

"Watson and Warner did the job, Hussey was good too. But we are disappointed with the rain, because an exciting finish was set up."

Watson, the man of the match, attributed his success to opening partner Warner.

“It was great to watch Warner from the other end. He took the pressure off me. That’s the thing about our partnership. One day is his day, the next one can be mine.”

Watson, though, expressed his disappointment at letting the West Indies batsmen off the hook.

“It was a good day in the end. “Obviously disappointing to let them score 190,” he said. “Dropping Gayle was a pretty bad feeling, especially when the next 10 balls go for 30 runs. So it was good to make up for it with the ball and the bat.

In Hambantota, South Africa piled up 78-4 in seven overs with skipper AB de Villiers smashing two sixes and a four during his 13-ball 30. Hashim Amla (16) and Faf du Plessis (13) were the other main contributors.

Sri Lanka managed only 46-5 in reply, having lost the star duo of Tillakaratne Dilshan (0) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (4) in the first two overs.

Dale Steyn was South Africa's best bowler with 2-10.

Heavy rain had delayed the start by two-and-a-half hours, disappointing a sell-out crowd of 35,000 in the southern port town.

De Villiers said his team was ready for the next round.

"Beating Sri Lanka is nice because they are one of the top teams and now we are ready for the Super Eights," the South African captain said.

"We did not take anything for granted. It was nice to win again."


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