| Edgar Schiferli of Holland is bowled by Ian Harvey in Potchefstroom Thursday. Australia won by 75 runs. (Reuters)
Potchefstroom: Australia overcame Holland and the elements in impressive style to record their third successive World Cup Group A victory on Thursday.
In a match that started an hour late and had two rain interruptions, the world champions were still able to squeeze out a result against Roland Lefebvre’s side, winning by 75 runs.
Australia made 170 for two in 36 overs, Man-of-the-Match Damien Martyn returning to form with an unbeaten 67.
Then, with Holland set a Duckworth-Lewis recalculated target of 198, spinners Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds raced through 15 overs in only 38 minutes to help ensure the part-timers faced at least 25 overs, the minimum number required to constitute a match.
By securing the win instead of having an abandonment, Australia will now carry forward a point rather than half a point from this match when they get to the Super Six stage of the tournament.
Given that scenario, Ricky Ponting’s men were naturally keen to play and credit should go to the Dutch players for sharing their enthusiasm, despite recent heavy rain leaving the outfield damp and a large wet patch on the pitch.
A police helicopter aided the drying process but an hour was lost and when play eventually began the Dutch bowlers used the conditions to make life hard for the batsmen.
Jimmy Maher (26) and Matthew Hayden (33) hit some powerful shots but neither was fluent before falling to medium-pacer Tim de Leede.
He had Maher caught by Daan van Bunge at first slip as he edged a drive, then Hayden lofted him to deep mid-wicket, where Edgar Schiferli held the catch.
Martyn, who was dismissed first ball in his last innings against Pakistan, survived a caught and bowled chance to Feiko Kloppenburg on one, but gradually found some form to reach 50 from 53 balls between the rain breaks.
At the other end Lehmann (29 not out), playing his first innings since returning to the side after suspension, was also scratchy, and both men seemed quite content to use their innings for batting practice in the closing overs rather than look to accelerate.
That approach, with only 47 coming from the final eight overs of the innings after a second rain break, was presumably founded on the belief that Australia’s bowlers were always going to prove too good for the Dutch batsmen, and so it proved.
Once Jason Gillespie, a late inclusion in the side to take advantage of seamer-friendly conditions, removed Van Bunge (1) and Bas Zuiderent (5), both caught behind the wicket, Ponting threw the ball to Lehmann and Symonds to get through the overs as quickly as possible.
They did not let their captain down, with Lehmann taking just one minute to get through one of his overs. Luuk van Troost (23) and De Leede (24) aimed some bold blows but the task was well beyond them as, even though the spinners were racing through their overs, they still got plenty of turn.
Once it was clear Australia would be able to get through at least 25 overs without further interruption from the weather, Ponting gave the ball to seamers Andrew Bichel and Ian Harvey to give them a work-out.
Bichel was particularly impressive, generating lively pace to claim three for 13, while Harvey (three for 25) dismissed Schiferli with a clever slower ball after being hit for six from the previous delivery.