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Australia to re-examine team balance

Australia will re-examine the balance of their side before their final three World Cup Super Eights cricket fixtures as they wait for allrounder Shane Watson to recover from his left calf strain.

Australia hoped Watson would be fit for the semifinals on April 24-25 at least and would like him back even earlier.

The defending champions' next fixture is against Ireland in Barbados on Saturday (NZT) followed by matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Grenada.

Yesterday, Australia used Michael Clarke's left-arm spin for the first time in the tournament in the seven-wicket win over England while Andrew Symonds bowled his medium pace.

Brad Hodge, a specialist batsman who replaced Watson, was not required to bat.

"We will have to look at conditions and everything. We felt we might have been able to get away with it a little bit today with a fairly low, slow sort of wicket," Australian captain Ricky Ponting said.

Australia's other option would be to pick either Mitchell Johnson or Stuart Clark to strengthen the pace bowling and omit either Hodge or Michael Hussey, who has failed to reach double figures in the tournament from limited opportunities.

For only the second time in the tournament, Australia's bowling looked vulnerable when Ian Bell made 77 and Kevin Pietersen 104 as they added 140 for the second wicket.

Bell had successfully targeted Glenn McGrath and Pietersen hit successive deliveries from Clarke for four and six.

Symonds, bowling medium pace for the first time since recovering from a torn right biceps, was played comfortably.

But as they did when South Africa reached 160 without loss in the final group stages, Ponting and his side held their nerve.

Bell's dismissal caught at cover off McGrath was the beginning of the end for England who at that point looked set for at least 270. In the end they made only 247.

"I thought just the way we hung in and our intensity in the field, our bowling in the latter stage of the innings I thought was absolutely first class led by Shaun (Tait) and (Brad) Hogg again," Ponting said.

Ponting said Clarke and Symonds had conceded 67 runs between them in their 10 overs while bowling during a power play.

source - stuff.co.nz
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