COLOMBO: Australia qualified for the Super Eights round and South Africa earned bragging points as rain ruined two key matches in the World Twenty20 on Saturday.
Australia beat the West Indies by 17 runs according to the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain cut short the group B game that appeared headed for keen finish in Colombo.
South Africa outplayed hosts Sri Lanka by 32 runs in a group C match reduced to seven-overs-a-side in Hambantota due to rain.
The match held only academic interest since both South Africa and Sri Lanka had already qualified for the next round with wins over Zimbabwe, the third team in the group.
Australia, chasing a challenging target of 192, were 100-1 in 9.1 overs when heavy rain forced the match to be called off in front of 18,000 fans at the Premadasa stadium.
The Aussies, who were ahead of the par score of 83 at that stage, recorded their second successive win following a seven-wicket win over Ireland on Wednesday.
The West Indies and Ireland will clash on Monday, with the winner taking the second Super Eights spot from the group.
The weather ruined a keen finish with Australia edging ahead, needing 92 more from 65 balls with nine wickets in hand.
David Warner hit 28 in an opening stand of 30 with Shane Watson, before Mike Hussey joined Watson to add 70 in 42 balls for the unbroken second wicket.
Watson, who was unbeaten on 41 off 24 balls with three sixes and two boundaries, was declared the man of the match.
Hussey made 28 not out with three fours and a six.
Earlier, the West Indies posted 191-8 following attacking half-centuries from Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.
Left-handed Gayle smashed 54 off 33 balls and Samuels plundered 50 from 32 balls after the West Indies elected to bat in their first match of the tournament.
Sri Lankan fans were treated to a flurry of strokes as Gayle hit four sixes and five boundaries and Samuels chipped in with four sixes and three fours.
“The weather ruined a very exciting game,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy. “Everybody was looking forward to it.
“The batsmen did what was required of them. We knew Australia would come back hard, but we took too long to respond.”
Australian captain George Bailey was relieved at gaining full points from the match. “There was some good stuff but there was some ordinary stuff as well,” he said.
“The challenge is to lessen the gap between the good and the ordinary stuff.
“Watson and Warner did the job, Hussey was good too. But we are disappointed with the rain, because an exciting finish was set up.”
In Hambantota, South Africa piled up 78-4 in seven overs with skipper AB de Villiers smashing two sixes and a four during his 13-ball 30. Hashim Amla (16) and Faf du Plessis (13) were the other main contributors.
Sri Lanka managed only 46-5 in reply, having lost the star duo of Tillakaratne Dilshan (0) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (4) in the first two overs.
Dale Steyn was South Africa's best bowler with 2-10.
Heavy rain had delayed the start by two-and-a-half hours, disappointing a sell-out crowd of 35,000 in the southern port town.
De Villiers said his team was ready for the next round.
“Beating Sri Lanka is nice because they are one of the top teams and now we are ready for the Super Eights,” the South African captain said.
“We did not take anything for granted. It was nice to win again.”
DID YOU KNOW?
By Shaan Agha
-West Indies have conceded the most extras in a T20 match. This was versus South Africa in January 2008.
-In T20Is David Warner and Shane Watson share the most runs scored in partnerships with 914. Tellingly, no other pair has batted together more than their 26 innings together. The pair also has the highest number of ducks in T20Is for Australia.
-After Bangladesh, West Indies have the worst T20I win/loss record for Test qualified teams. They have won 16 matches with 20 losses and 2 tied games.
-Top four wicket-takers of Australia in T20Is are Mitchel Johnson, Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Dirk Nannes. While Lee retired earlier this year, the others are still playing competitive cricket. None of them are in the current squad.
-Chris Gayle has scored total of 8 hundreds in T20’s including one for the West Indies. His lone international century against South Africa is also the only T20I century ever scored in a losing cause.
-Fidel Edwards is a protégé of his neighbor and West Indian fast bowler Corey Collymore. He is also the half-brother Pedro Collins, another West Indian fast bowler.
-Daniel Christian is of Aboriginal decent and a graduate of Cricket Australia's indigenous cricket program. Jason Gillespie is the only Australian test cricketer to publicly acknowledge his Aboriginal heritage.
-Fearing Tamil Tiger attacks in the 1996 ODI World Cup, West Indies and Australia forfeited their games against host Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The two teams faced-off against each at the same venue today.