South Africa fall short in record run chase

Sydney, February 5:

South Africa failed to overhaul Australia with what would have been a world-record score, falling 57 runs short of their giant target in the triangular series match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Australians, led by a blistering onslaught from opener Adam Gilchrist, had posted their highest score against the Proteas of 344-6. In reply, the South Africans made 287-6, any faint hopes of victory fading when wicketkeeper-batsman Mark Boucher tucked his bat under the arm after a sparkling 76 from 83 balls.

South Africa must now beat Sri Lanka in the final qualifying match in Hobart on Tuesday if they are to reach the best-of-three finals against Australia starting on Friday.

Gilchrist laid the platform for Australia’s huge tally, spanking an incredible 14 boundaries on his way to 88 from 66 balls before skying a shot to Boucher off the bowling of supersub Charl Langeveldt.

The introduction of slower bowling on the spin-friendly wicket helped calm the rampant run rate after his dismissal. But even that was not enough to stop the Australians who’s previous best one-day score against South Africa was 330-7 in Port Elizabeth in 2001-02.

Even worse for the Proteas was the discouraging fact that the highest successful run chase by any team was 332-8 by New Zealand against Australia last December.

Gilchrist had dominated the inexperienced attack from the outset, bringing up his half century with a boundary through long-off from just 32 deliveries.

His eventual dismissal marked a welcome relief for South Africa, but by then Australia had already reached 138-2 at the start of the 19th over.

Gilchrist was well supported by captain Ricky Ponting with 72 from 61 balls, while Damien Martyn clocked 79 off 75 and Michael Hussey 47 from 33.

In reply the South Africans started woefully with captain Graeme Smith’s nightmare run continuing as once again speedster Brett Lee had him caught behind for just six runs.

Boucher’s knock was solid but included just three fours and it was obvious the South Africans couldn’t produced the flurry of boundaries needed to challenge for the world-record total.