BANGALORE, March 16 – Reigning champions Australia thrashed Canada by seven wickets in a World Cup Group A match on Wednesday but only after a teenager asked serious questions of their pace attack.
Shane Watson (94) and Brad Haddin (88) shared an Australian first-wicket World Cup record stand of 183 before the title-holders, already through to the quarter-finals, finished on 212 for three in reply to Canada’s 211 all out.
Haddin, given a life on 37 when Canada captain Ashish Bagai fumbled a possible stumping chance, was caught by Bagai off 40-year-old off-spinner John Davison, playing his final match before international retirement.
In all he faced 84 balls with two sixes and 11 fours.
And 183 for one became 185 for two when Watson, who hit the tournament’s biggest six at 104 metres during his innings, holed out off Harvir Baidwan.
Watson, reprieved on two when Rizwan Cheema failed to hold a swirling chance off paceman Baidwan, struck four sixes and nine fours in his 90-ball innings.
The openers’ stand surpassed Australia’s previous first-wicket World Cup best of 182 set by Rick McCosker and Alan Turner against Sri Lanka during the inaugural 1975 edition.
Skipper Ricky Ponting fell for just seven, miscuing a hook off fast bowler Henry Osinde to Davison.
The match ended with more than 15 overs to spare when Osinde bowled only the second wide of the innings.
"We haven’t been fully tested yet, but we will be by Pakistan in Colombo and we are looking forward to it," said Ponting, whose team tackle the 1992 winners in their last group engagement on Saturday.
Bagai said his team will learn from their experience.
"The boys will take a lot from this World Cup," said Bagai, whose side finished the tournament with one win and five defeats.
"The bowlers did well throughout the competition, but our batsmen let us down.
Earlier, Hiral Patel, a 19-year-old India-born opener, took the attack to Australia’s quicks with a career-best 54 after Bagai won the toss.
Canada, who have completed their World Cup campaign with one win and five defeats, were well-placed at 150 for two.
But Australia, now unbeaten in 34 matches at the World Cup since 1999, then took five wickets for 19 runs. Brett Lee ended with figures of four for 46.
The way Canada set about Australia’s pacemen would have concerned Ponting ahead of the match against Pakistan.
Ponting angrily threw the ball to the ground after catching Baidwan when, despite his repeated calls, Steven Smith collided with his captain.
Canada promoted Davison to opener but he fell for 14 when caught behind off a clever slow bouncer from fast bowler Lee.
Patel though took Canada, whose only win at this World Cup came against fellow associates Kenya, to the fastest fifty of any team this tournament — in 29 balls — when he miscued a six off Mitchell Johnson over third man.
But Patel, whose highest score in 13 previous one-day internationals was 43, made no mistake in hooking a bouncer from Lee for six.
Patel completed his fifty in just 37 balls, with three sixes and five fours.
However, his blistering innings ended when he slashed medium-pacer Watson to Johnson at third man, leaving Canada 82-2 in the 12th over.
Zubin Surkari and Bagai kept Australia at bay with a stand of 68 until the captain, on 39, edged a cut off Tait to Haddin.