Australia crush spirited Canada

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

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Shane Watson & Ashish Bagai

Shane Watson plays a signature slog-sweep en route to 90-ball 94 which helped Australia to a seven-wicket success over Canada today

Australia extended their World Cup unbeaten run to 34 games and moved top of Group A courtesy of a crushing seven-wicket victory over Canada.

Australia have not tasted defeat in the showpiece since losing to Pakistan in 1999 and that run was hardly under threat against a Canada side that have done little more than make up the numbers this time round.

The minnows did put in a spirited display, particularly with the bat, but the gulf between the sides was evident as Australia easily overhauled the victory target of 212 with 15.1 overs to spare.

Shane Watson and Brad Haddin enjoyed some time in the middle with a 183-run stand, hitting 94 and 88 respectively, but they will be well aware that bigger challenges lie ahead in the tournament.

Their efforts backed up those of Brett Lee, who claimed 4-46 to check Canada after they had made an impressive start with the bat courtesy of Hiral Patel's half-century.

Indeed, the minnows took full advantage of some ill-disciplined early bowling by Australia’s pace trio of Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait as they set off at more than seven runs an over during the initial 15 overs of powerplay.

Opener Patel smashed three sixes in an entertaining 54 off 45 balls and by the time he was caught by Johnson on the boundary off Watson in the 12th over, Canada had 82 on the board.

Lee had already dismissed Patel’s opening partner John Davison - playing his final one-day international at the age of 40 - caught behind for 14, but Zubin Surkari and Ashish Bagai held Canada’s innings together with a partnership worth 68 from 17 overs.

A sizeable total looked a distinct possibility at that point, but Tait returned to the attack to dismiss both.

First Bagai edged to Brad Haddin for 39, reducing Canada to 150 for three, before Jimmy Hansra had a rush of blood and slogged Jason Krejza to Lee on the long-on boundary.

Surkari had his stumps spread by Tait a ball after being hit on the head by a bouncer, while Rizwan Cheema and Nitish Kumar also fell cheaply to Lee and Johnson respectively as Canada lost five wickets for only 19 runs.

Hiral Patel

Opener Hiral Patel helps Canada to a flying start against Australia en route to 54 from 45 deliveries although the minnows could only muster 211 all out

Karl Whatham and Harvir Baidwan appeared to be rebuilding a respectable total until the latter tried to charge Krejza and only succeeded in skying a catch to Ponting.

Lee bowled Balaji Rao and Whatham to wrap up the Canada innings for 211 from 45.4 overs.

In reply, Australia set about their chase with a predictably aggressive approach although they were at times aided by some dismal fielding.

That was best underlined by Cheema dropping Watson, who had skied an attempted pull, when the batsman was on just three.

Profiting, Watson and opening partner Haddin combined beautifully with the former favouring the leg side while the latter made room and hit over off.

That combination proved too much for Canada to handle and, after the duo passed their respective half-centuries, Watson began to take charge.

He took a liking to Patel with a 104-metre six, the biggest of the tournament, proving particularly memorable in a 28th over which cost 19 runs.

Spurred on by his partner’s endeavour, Haddin also moved through the gears in the next over, following up a graceful flick through midwicket by bludgeoning Davison down the ground for a maximum.

The bowler soon had his revenge, though, as Haddin got a little tickle on a leg-side bound delivery, Bagai doing the rest behind the stumps.

Watson fell soon after, once again continuing his career trend of failing to go on to three figures.

With six needed the reach the milestone, the opener fell into the trap of going for the big hit and proceeded only to pick out Henry Osinde at long-on off Baidwan.

Ponting did little to dispel the theory that he is becoming increasingly vulnerable against the short ball, inexplicably pulling Osinde to square-leg where Davison took the catch.

But it did not matter as, after Cameron White hit his first ball for four, Osinde bowled a wide to give Australia a comfortable win.

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