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19 Mar 2007 08:43
Defending champions Australia completed a crushing 229-win over The Netherlands in their World Cup Group A match on Sunday to record the third-largest winning margin in the tournament’s history.
Brad Hodge, batting at number five in place of the injured Andrew Symonds, pressed his case for a place in the first choice Australia side with his maiden one-day century.
Hodge, who was twice not out in the 90s against New Zealand this year, started quietly but then accelerated to reach 123 from 89 balls with eight fours and seven sixes against a modest attack of medium-pacers.
He shared a World Cup record fourth wicket partnership of 204 with Michael Clarke, who finished on 93 from 85 balls and struck six fours and three sixes, including a lofted straight drive on to the pavilion roof in the final over.
Hodge was dropped on 71 and Clarke on 64, both hard chances in the outfield.
After Ricky Ponting won the toss on a hot, steamy morning, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden made their customary aggressive start before the latter was caught at point on 29 for slashing at the ball without bothering to move his feet.
Gilchrist survived a chance at 34 when he was dropped by Tim de Leede at long-on and Ponting also had a life at 23 when Bas Zuiderent juggled then floored an attempted catch at mid-wicket.
The teams then took drinks, after which Dutch spirits were briefly raised when Gilchrist was caught off the fifth ball of de Leede’s first over for 57 off 64 balls with 11 fours. Ponting followed without adding to his score, acrobatically caught and bowled by Ryan ten Doeschate.
Hodge and Clarke then demonstrated the strength of the Australian batting with their lengthy partnership, enlivened by consecutive sixes from Hodge off off-spinner Adeel Raja.
Left-armer Nathan Bracken made the breakthrough for Australia when he captured the wickets of Darron Reekers (25) and 17-year-old Alexei Kervezee (0) in the space of three balls.
Ten Doeschate (1) and captain Luuk van Troost (0) fell lbw to Shaun Tait and Glenn McGrath respectively and Zuiderent completed an unhappy day when he was run out for nine.
Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg dismissed de Leede for 14, caught at slip by Hayden off a googly and Daan van Bunge, the bowler who conceded six sixes in an over to South African Herschelle Gibbs, was lbw to McGrath for 33, the Australian’s 50th World Cup wicket.
Only Pakistan’s Wasim Akram with 55 has more.
Hogg took the last three wickets to wrap up the innings and finish with figures of four for 27 from his 4.5 overs.
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