Johannesburg: Pure, burning speed from Brett Lee again proved the turning point in a rain-shortened World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
The defending champions qualified on the Duckworth-Lewis system (winning by 48 runs) for their third successive final. They will meet the winners of Thursday’s day-night match in Durban between India and Kenya.
Lee took three for 35 from his eight overs and gave Sanath Jayasuriya, in particular, a torrid time. After repeatedly fending the ball off his chest against Lee, Jayasuriya succumbed tamely to Glenn McGrath at the other end for 17, shovelling a simple catch to leg.
Lee, who amazingly has yet to win a Man-of-the-Match award in the tournament, has been instrumental in two wins over Sri Lanka and one each over New Zealand and Kenya.
“The way Brett is bowling is outstanding,” said Australia captain Ricky Ponting. “Let’s just hope that he has got one more good game in him.”
Another slow pitch at St George’s Park did nothing for the cause of attractive cricket. Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva, part-time bowlers at best, bowled 20 overs between them for 78 runs and four wickets in Australia’s 212 for seven.
Only Man-of-the-Match Andrew Symonds (91 n.o) coped with the slow bowlers, employing a restricted backlift and punching the ball powerfully with his bottom hand. “Symonds did a great job today,” Ponting said. “He played beautifully and he’s played beautifully through this tournament. Today was a very sensible innings, he paced it very well.”
Symonds said: “I am believing in myself and after that first game my confidence has been as high as it ever has been.
“I am also now trusting myself to go out every time to produce the same thing.” (Reuters)