Aussies Into Semi-Finals After Crushing Ireland

Australia qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup after a crushing nine-wicket victory over Ireland in their Super Eights game on Friday. Pace bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shaun Tait skittled Ireland out for 91 and the World Cup holders then knocked off the total inside 13 overs with the loss of just one wicket. Australia captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and put in the Irish -- without a win in the second stage of the competition -- and was rewarded with impressive spells from his two opening bowlers who claimed three wickets apiece. In reply, Adam Gilchrist scored 34 and Michael Hussey was unbeaten on 30 as Australia made easy work of a harmless Irish attack to win an utterly one-sided game with over 37 overs remaining. The win gives the Australians 10 points from the second-stage Super Eights and they became the first team to ensure their last-four qualification. There was a good turn-out at the Kensington Oval and a lively atmosphere but the fans saw less than half of the allotted 100 overs for the day and certainly not the level of competition that would be expected from a game at this stage of the competition. The die was cast early on -- McGrath bowled Ireland's Australian-born opener Jeremy Bray with the sixth ball of the morning, clipping the left-hander's off stump and then in the fourth over William Porterfield was trapped leg before by Tait. FIRST BALL Tait, bowling consistently at over 90 mph on a track which encouraged pace bowlers with plenty of bounce, then dismissed Niall O'Brien first ball, the Irishman playing on to a full length delivery. Ireland were two for three and Tait was on a hat-trick. Kevin O'Brien, though, survived a corker of a delivery which zipped past his outside edge. The Irish then slumped to 12 for four when Eoin Morgan went, caught by Matthew Hayden at slip off McGrath and it could have been even worse when, with Ireland having added just five runs, Ponting dropped Andrew White at slip off Tait. White's luck turned for the worse when he ducked into a short delivery from McGrath and he had to receive medical attention after being struck on the helmet. Shortly afterwards White was on his way after stopping on a drive to a slower bowler from McGrath which he lobbed to Brad Hogg. At 32 for five, Ireland's frontline batsmen had gone with McGrath enjoying figures of three for 17 from his opening seven overs. Kevin O'Brien put up some resistance making 16 before he went, clipping Stuart Clark to Brad Hogg at mid-wicket and Ireland's Australian captain Trent Johnston showed some spirit scoring 17 before he played on to Tait who Ponting had brought back as he looked to finish off the Irish. © Reuters 2007