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Twenty20 salvation for Australia

Australia bounced back from their shock defeat against Zimbabwe to demolish England by eight wickets at Newlands and avert an embarrassing early exit from the Twenty20 World Championship.

Less than two days after being stunned by the African minnows on the same ground, Australia looked every bit world champions as they dismissed England for 135 and then polished off the runs with a massive 31 balls to spare.

"I thought we were excellent today," said captain Ricky Ponting.

"We had a bit more intensity and intent about our cricket and I think our overall skills were a lot better.

"We had our backs to the ball going into the game against a team that's been playing a lot of cricket and a team that's a lot more experienced than us in this format of the game, and we've come away with a very, very comprehensive win.

"So I'm extremely happy with what we've done."

Matthew Hayden belted an unbeaten 67 off 43 balls to lead Australia's run chase, but it was pace bowler Nathan Bracken who deservedly walked away with man-of-the-match honours after snaring 3-16.

It was the bowlers who ultimately set up the victory, with Mitchell Johnson (3-22), Stuart Clark (2-24) and Brett Lee (1-31) also claiming wickets.

After collapsing to 3-19 against Zimbabwe, Australia's top order dominated the English attack, with Adam Gilchrist adding 45 in a 78-run opening partnership with Hayden before Ponting hit a quick-fire 20.

The emphatic victory secures Australia's place in the Super Eights, with England also advancing to the second stage ahead of Zimbabwe on net run rate.

It also gave Ponting a chance to send a well-worded parting shot at outspoken England star Kevin Pietersen, who on Thursday said England would be looking to pay back Australia for their Ashes whitewash by "humiliating" Ponting's team and bouncing them out of the tournament.

"Comments, unless you can back them up dont mean anything at all," Ponting said.
"They had their chance today to do what he said they wanted to do, a once in a lifetime opportunity to try and humiliate Australia, so they had the opportunity and if anything they're the ones who have walked off humiliated today."

While England beat Zimbabwe by 50 runs on Thursday, there was still a slight chance Paul Collingwood's side could have been eliminated at the group stage if they suffered a heavy defeat today.

In the end, the size of the loss was not significant enough for England to crash out, with Australia having needing to have scored the runs in 9.3 overs.

Andrew Flintoff top scored with 31, with Pietersen adding 21, but it was an overall disappointing performance from England, who struggled to score at six-and-over for the first half of their innings, and then failed miserably to boost their total in the dying overs.

They were 6-127 in the 17th over when Johnson dismissed Flintoff, but could only added a miserly eight runs from the final three overs - bowled by Bracken and Clark with Stuart Broad the last man out off of the final ball of the innings.

Australia now play Bangladesh in Cape Town on Sunday in their first match of the Super Eights stage.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also been drawn in their group for the second stage, with the top two teams from the pool qualifying for the semi-finals.

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