COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Shane Watson grabbed 3-34 and struck 72 off 42 balls to lift Australia to an emphatic nine-wicket win over India in the Super Eights match of the World Twenty20 in Colombo yesterday.
Watson, who was adjudged man of the match for the third consecutive game, shared a first-wicket stand of 133 with David Warner (63 not out) as Australia eased past India's 140-7 in the 15th over.
Warner smashed three sixes and seven boundaries and Watson plundered seven sixes and two fours in a batting treat for a sell-out crowd of 35,000 at the Premadasa stadium.
The pair treated the Indian bowlers with disdain as Warner lofted Harbhajan Singh for two successive sixes and Watson hit leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for two sixes in his first over.
When seamer Irfan Pathan came on to bowl the 10th over, Watson greeted him with a sequence of 6, 6 and 4 to bring up Australia's 100 in the same over.
Watson fell in the 14th over when just eight more runs were needed for victory, caught in the covers off Yuvraj Singh.
Watson's match-winning display followed his 51 and 3-26 against Ireland and 41 not out and 2-29 in the second game against the West Indies.
Australia join Pakistan, who beat South Africa by two wickets earlier yesterday, at the top of group two with one win each.
In that match, Tailender Umar Gul became an unlikely batting star as he helped Pakistan pull off a thrilling victory.
South Africa laboured against Pakistan's spin attack to post a modest 133-6 in 20 overs, then looked like they may be able to defend it.
Pakistan's chase was precariously placed at 76-7 in the 15th over, when Gul joined Umar Akmal with 58 needed for victory in five overs.
Gul, who'd hit double figures only five times in five years, launched three sixes and two boundaries in scoring a T20 career-best 32 off just 17 balls. He and Akmal, 43 not out, combined for 49 in 28 balls.
When Gul was finally out, caught on the boundary with an over to go, Pakistan were left with a gettable nine to win over six balls. Akmal smashed Morne Morkel for his first six and Saeed Ajmal edged a boundary past the wicketkeeper for the winning runs at 136-8 with two balls to spare.
In the Australia-India match, makeshift opener Pathan made 31 and Suresh Raina boosted the total towards the end with 26 off 19 balls after Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat.
Raina put on 30 for the sixth wicket with Dhoni and 33 for the seventh with Ravichandran Ashwin, who remained unbeaten on 16 off 12 balls.
India dropped seasoned opener Virender Sehwag to play five specialist bowlers, including three spinners, and sent all-rounder Pathan to open the innings with Gautam Gambhir.
Pathan hit two fours and a six, but India lost three wickets in seven balls to slip from a comfortable 70-2 to 74-5.
Watson claimed two wickets in one over, forcing Yuvraj to hole out in the deep before getting Pathan caught in the covers.
In the next round of matches otomorrow, Australia take on South Africa and India clash with Pakistan at the same venue.