Our quarterfinal question marks

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 14 Maret 2015 | 20.01

Cricket World Cup: Australia has defeated Scotland by seven wickets in their final group stage clash in Hobart.

Shane Watson played well in Sydney but he's still looking over his shoulder. Source: Getty Images

AUSTRALIA ensured it doesn't have to leave home shores to win the World Cup by beating Scotland — and the weather — in Hobart on Saturday.

Man of the match Mitchell Starc helped the Aussies knock the Scots over for 130 — a target the home side reached in just 15.2 overs despite a rain delay.

There were was some concern the game would be washed out and declared a draw but David Warner and James Faulkner made short work of the 39 runs remaining for victory after the delay to secure the win.

It sets Australia up for a quarterfinal in Adelaide on Friday.

After the match Michael Clarke said his team "couldn't have asked for a better preparation" but there are still a few question marks lingering ahead of the game.

Australia juggled its batting order again, promoting Clarke to opener and Watson to three. Source: AFP

1. THE OPPONENT

Australia won't know who it's playing in the quarterfinal until Sunday's games between the West Indies and UAE and Pakistan and Ireland are completed.

The West Indies and Pakistan are strong favourites in those games and if they both win it would mean Australia plays Pakistan.

The Aussies most recently played Pakistan in a three game series in Dubai in October last year, winning all three games.

2. THE THIRD PACEMAN

The selectors showed their hand in Hobart by opting for the wicket-taking ability of Pat Cummins over the accuracy of Josh Hazlewood to support Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.

Cummins did little to justify the decision in his opening spell, bowling waywardly to concede 17 runs from two overs and forcing Clarke to pull him from the attack.

But he responded in his next spell, taking 3/25 from five overs to help run through the Scottish batting order.

Overall it wasn't the most convincing display, so expect discussion around his position this week.

3. SHANE WATSON

WATSON said before play he doesn't mind where he bats in the order and it's lucky because who knows where he'll start on Friday?

After struggling at number three early in the tournament and getting dropped, he shone in the middle order against Sri Lanka.

But he was back at three again against Scotland — probably to get a little more time in the middle during a short run chase.

Watson finished with 24 from 23 balls, a score that suggests he should go back to number six in Adelaide.

7.50pm — WARNER, FAULKNER FINISH WITH A FLOURISH

David Warner wasn't keen to hang around. Source: News Corp Australia

DAVID Warner and James Faulkner clubbed the final 39 runs Australia needed for victory off just 12 deliveries.

With rain clouds continuing to hang around the Aussies weren't taking any risks, hitting seven boundaries, including three sixes.

It allowed them to avoid a potentially troubling draw.

7.10pm — IT'S RAINING AGAIN, AND IT'S HEAVY THIS TIME

Steve Smith leaves the field in Hobart. Source: Getty Images

HEAVY rain has halted play in Hobart with Australia just 39 runs short of victory.

It's increased fears of another no-result for the Aussies — an outcome which could have huge ramifications on our World Cup hopes.

Unless Australia returns to the field in the next few hours to reach Scotland's score of all out for 130 — or another 6.4 overs are bowled to constitute a match — the game will be declared a draw.

That would see Australia stranded in third position in pool A and facing a much tougher path to the final — with likely matches against South Africa in the quarter final and New Zealand (away) in the semi.

Former Aussie paceman Brett Lee has already put the umpires of today's game in the gun for taking a 45 minute break for an extremely light shower during Scotland's innings.

"The game would already be over if they stayed on," Lee said. "It was hardly even raining."

Channel 9 commentator Mark Nicholas echoed Lee's concern of a no-result.

"I'm seriously worried about this," Nicholas said. "There's a problem here."

An Australian win today would set up a home quarter-final against either Pakistan, Ireland or the West Indies, followed by a home semi against likely opponent India.

But a second draw — after their pool game in Brisbane against Bangladesh was also washed out — leaves them behind Sri Lanka despite having only one defeat to Sri Lanka's two.

The situation is also a nightmare for South Africa, which is in Sydney where it expected to play its quarterfinal against Sri Lanka.

The Proteas would have to quickly move their entire camp to Adelaide to play Australia.

Cricket World Cup: Australia are closing in on victory against Scotland in their final group clash in Hobart.

6pm — CLARKE FALLS SHORT OF HALF CENTURY

Clarke sends one over the rope. Source: Getty Images

MICHAEL Clarke will have no worries about his form entering the final stages of the tournament but missed out on scoring back to back fifties.

The Aussie skipper promoted himself to opener and took advantage of the extra time in the middle to score a run-a-ball 47.

Shane Watson also scored quickly at number three but was dismissed for 24 after attempting to flick a ball down the leg side.

Watson walked across his stumps to play a flick shot but scooped the ball up into the air, where it was caught by Scottish keeper Matthew Cross.

Australia is 3/92 after 13.2 overs, 39 run short of victory.

5.20pm — CLARKE OPENS, FINCH FAILS

'I'm having a bat, everyone OK with that?' Source: AFP

AUSTRALIA has chosen to give some of its underdone batsmen some time in the middle during the short run chase.

Michael Clarke was promoted to the opening slot alongside Aaron Finch — who fell for 20 off 10 balls.

It's Finch's fourth failure in a row since making a hundred against England in the opening game of the World Cup. Since then his scores read 14, four, 24 and 20.

Back at number three is none other than Shane Watson, joining Clarke at the crease with the score at 1/30.

5pm — STARC DOESN'T WASTE ANY TIME

Mitchell Starc finished with figures of 4/14. Source: News Corp Australia

MITCHELL Starc took two wickets in four balls after the rain delay to quickly end the Scotland innings at 130.

The Aussie fast bowler finished with figures of 4/14 from 4.4 overs to move to 16 wickets for the tournament — past Trent Boult (New Zealand) and Mohammed Shami (India) who have 15.

Starc also became only the second player (after New Zealand's Mitchell McClenaghan) to have taken four wickets or more in his first game against six different countries:

4/27 v Sri Lanka, 2010

4/47 v Afghanistan, 2012

5/42 v Pakistan, 2012

5/20 v West Indies, 2013

6/28 v New Zealand, 2015

4/14 v Scotland, 2015

In other words, he loves bowling to batsmen who have never faced him before.

Starc added the finishing touches to an impressive bowling performance by the Aussies.

Scotland maintained an aggressive attitude despite the continual fall of wickets, scoring at more than five runs an over for most of its innings.

Five Scottish batsmen (Coetzer, Mommsen, Coleman, Taylor and Wardlaw) scored ducks, just one off the record for most in ODI innings.

4.30pm — RAIN HALTS PLAY

Give Mitchell Starc the ball when play resumes and let's get this over with. Source: AFP

THE covers are on in Hobart as rain threatens to rob Australia of an easy victory.

The Aussies have reduced Scotland to 8/130 from 25 overs — but unless they can finish the game their path to the World Cup final becomes brutal.

Another no-result in this game would leave Australia stranded behind New Zealand and Sri Lanka in third place in pool A.

That would see them play a talented South African side in the quarter-final before likely having to travel to New Zealand to play the Kiwis in a semi.

The preferred route — which a win today guarantees — would be a home quarter-final against either Pakistan, Ireland or the West Indies and then a home semi-final, most probably against India.

Cricket World Cup: Australia are making light work of Scotland after choosing to bowl first in Hobart.

4.05pm — AUSSIES RUNNING THROUGH SCOTS

Watto got among the wickets. Source: AFP

AUSTRALIA showed its nasty side to rip through the Scottish top order in Hobart.

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson were particularly aggressive, testing the overwhelmed Scots with some lethal short-pitched bowling.

Matt Machan tried to fight back but was removed for 40 off 35 balls as the visitors fell to 8/95 from 20.1 overs.

Pat Cummins (three), Starc (two), Johnson, Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell have shared the wickets.

The Aussies are now two wickets from joining the list of teams responsible for the shortest one-day innings.

Australia set the record in 2003, bowling Namibia out for 45 in 14 overs.

The only times an Aussie team has bowled an opponent out in less than 150 deliveries are:

Namibia, 2003 — 84 balls

South Africa, 2011 — 132 balls

West Indies, 2013 — 143 balls

USA, 2004 — 144 balls

2.55pm — CUMMINS'S COSTLY START

Pat Cummins was wayward early. Source: Getty Images

YOUNG paceman Pat Cummins has as much on the line in today's game as any of the Australian team.

Picked ahead of Josh Hazlewood in a team the Aussies are expected to carry through into the final stages of the tournament, Cummins must perform to hold his spot.

But he's gone about it the wrong way early, leaking 17 runs from two overs before being replaced in the attack by Shane Watson.

Cummins bowled too many loose deliveries outside off stump and was hit for four boundaries.

Mitchell Starc has been his usual self at the other end, bowling 10 consecutive dot balls to Scotland opener Kyle Coetzer before claiming his wicket with the 11th delivery. Coetzer nicked a rising delivery to Steve Smith at second slip to fall for a duck.

Starc then added Calum MacLeod's wicket to his tally as David Warner took a neat catch at backward point.

Scotland is 2/36 from seven overs.

2.15pm — AUSSIES CHOOSE TO BOWL

Cricket World Cup: Cricket insider Sarah Jones reports there is a high chance of rain in Hobart during Australia's match with Scotland

AUSTRALIAN captain Michael Clarke has admitted the threat of rain later today led to his decision to bowl first against Scotland in the World Cup clash at Blundstone Arena.

Despite admitting yesterday at his pre-match press conference several of the batsmen — including himself, Shane Watson and James Faulkner — were in need of time in the middle, Clarke said the need to win was the overriding factor.

The forecast in Hobart predicts some showers from as early as 3pm.

Australia is sitting third in pool A and needs a victory to leapfrog Sri Lanka into second spot and avoid a quarter-final showdown with South Africa.

The tournament co-hosts have made one change from the match against Sri Lanka last Sunday, with hometown spinner Xavier Doherty making way for young quick Pat Cummins.

The home side will take a four-pronged pace attack into the match, with Cummins joining left-arm trio Mitch Starc, Mitch Johnson and Tasmanian James Faulkner.

— News Corp's Adam Smith


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