Saumojyoti S Choudhury
Bangalore, Feb 15 (PTI) South Africa produced a clinicalall-round display to inflict a crushing seven-wicket defeat ondefending champions Australia in a World Cup warm-up match atthe near-empty Chinnaswamy Stadium here today.
Captain Graeme Smith (65 off 81 balls) and Hashim Amla(60 off 73) laid the foundation for the run chase by sharingan unbeaten 131-run for the opening wicket, after Dale Steynand Robin Peterson rocked the Aussie batting with threewickets each.After taking a firm grip on the match, Smith and Amladecided to retire themselves out to make way for other batsmenas South Africa chased Asutralia''s 218 in 44.2 overs.
JP Duminy made the most of the opportunity and remainedunbeaten on 47 while giving him company was AB de Villiers on16.
Even though South Africa lost only one wicket, both Smithand Amla are considered as retired out and cannot bat thesecond time.
Earlier after opting to bat first, skipper Ricky Pontingand his deputy Michael Clarke scored sedate half centuries toguide Australia to 217 in 47.1 overs.
Ponting, who made 55 off 84 deliveries and Clarke (73 of96 balls) lifted Australia from a difficult situation with a122-run third-wicket stand after they lost both their openersinside the first five overs with just six runs on the board.
Apart from Ponting and Clarke, Cameron White (22) was theother top-order batsmen to have made notable contribution.
Steyn and Peterson shone with the ball for South Africa,picking up three wickets apiece giving away 21 and 45 runsrespectively.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe (1/29) and Pakistan-born leg-spinnerImran Tahir (1/33) also returned among wickets for theProteas.
It is Australia''s second consecutive defeat in warm-upmatches after having lost to India by 38 runs in their firstgame on Sunday at the same ground.
Chasing a modest score, South African openers Smith andAmla found the going tough initially against the pace andbounce of Shaun Tait and Brett Lee but, when the opportunitycame their way, they capitalised.
After the initial struggle, Smith opened up and welcomedfirst change Mitchell Johnson with back-to-back fours in theseventh over.
The duo mixed caution with aggression to raise SouthAfrica''s 50 in 59 balls and then 100 in 116 balls.
Johnson was given some special treatment by both Smithand Amla as the left-arm pacer gave away 31 runs in hisopening spell of four overs without any success.Smith brought up his fifty in style, carrassing StevenSmith through the covers and then, a ball later, played adelicate cut to the thirdman fence, to add salt to theleg-spinner''s wound.
Amla was not to be left behind as he too reached hishalf-century with a four off Smith to the wide long-on fence.