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October 2, 2009

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Aussies limp into semifinal

AUSTRALIA almost stole defeat from the jaws of victory before booking its place in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy with a riveting final-ball, two-wicket win over Pakistan on Wednesday.

Australia, the reigning champion and unbeaten before this Centurion clash after a win and a washout, was cruising to its victory target of 206 before late wickets meant a scrambled single off the final ball secured the win.

Ricky Ponting's side will play England in the first semifinal at Centurion today. Pakistan plays New Zealand in Johannesburg tomorrow in the second semifinal.

Australia sent Pakistan in to bat and restricted it to 205 for six in 50 overs, and then looked in firm control of the run chase while Mike Hussey was at the crease as the left-hander breezed to 64 off 87 deliveries

He was sent packing by a perfect yorker from Rana Naved ul-Hasan, sparking a middle-order collapse that saw Australia lose four wickets for 13 runs as it crashed to 187-8.

But Brett Lee (12 not out) and Nathan Hauritz (nine not out) kept their cool as they added 19 runs for the ninth wicket, scoring 18 off the last three overs, and four off the 50th over, to seal a thrilling victory.

Returning seamer Mohammad Asif threatened to snatch a dramatic victory when he dismissed James Hopes (1) and Cameron White (5) in the 42nd over to finish with two for 34. Asif was playing his first one-day international in over a year, having completed a one-year ban for doping earlier this month.

Pakistan's total was built around a fifth-wicket partnership of 63 off 88 balls between Mohammad Yousuf (45) and Misbah ul-Haq (41).

In Johannesburg, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra shared six wickets as India beat West Indies by seven wickets but still went out.

India failed to advance to the semifinals from Group A following Australia's victory over Pakistan earlier. India ended the group stage with a single victory while West Indies lost all three of their matches in the competition.

India skittled West Indies for 129 in 36 overs, with seamer Kumar capturing 3-22 and left-arm swing bowler Nehra taking 3-31.

In reply, India cruised to 130-3 off 32.1 overs thanks to a second-wicket stand of 92 between Dinesh Karthik (34) and Virat Kohli (79 not out).


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