Australia bash Proteas

Melbourne, February 3:

Speedster Brett Lee added to his growing reputation as a lethal limited overs bowler as he

snared 4-30, including three wickets in one over, as Australia crashed and bashed their way to an 80-run win over South Africa here on Friday.

Lee, who was orginally due to be rested for the match, was the executioner, but it was batsmen Michael Hussey and Andrew Symonds who softened up Australia’s opponents in the latest Tri-series match.

Like a couple of schoolyard bullies, the pair showed no compassion as they bludgeoned the Proteas’ attack for 60 runs off their last five overs to rocket their team to an impressive 281-7.

In reply, South Africa, reduced to a disorganised rabble by Lee, mustered a meek 201-9, conceding a bonus point to the Australians in the process.

It was a dismal performance from a side which needed to win either this match or

their next against Australia in Sydney on Sunday, to avoid a “live” confrontation with Sri Lanka in Hobart.

The Australians have already qualified for the best-of-three finals series but South Africa, if they lose again on Sunday, could then be overhauled for the remaining berth by Sri Lanka.

Greame Smith was trapped in front by Lee for a duck after just two balls. Fellow opener Boeta Dippenaar followed, caught behind off Stuart Clark for nine and when Jacques Rudolph fell for 19 the Proteas were in trouble at 48-3.

When Lee was reintroduced to the Australian attack in the 38th over, things looked bleak for South Africa, by the end of it, they were desperate.

Justin Kemp (28), Mark Boucher (0) and then Johan Botha (46) all fell and the Proteas had crashed to 156-8.

The Australians had earlier looked like they might be restricted to a modest total but at 167-5 from 37 overs, Hussey joined Symonds and the pair ripped into the Proteas.

Hussey slogged 62 runs off 44 balls, including nine boundaries while Symonds clouted 65 off 60 balls, with a booming six over mid-wicket and five boundaries.