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Cricket: Defending Champion Australia Clinches Berth in Semifinals - 2003-03-07

Defending World Cup cricket champion Australia has clinched a berth in the semifinals of this year's tournament.

Australia won its opening Super 6 match over 1996 titlist Sri Lanka by 96 runs in Centurion, South Africa. These two teams had finished first in their respective groups in the preliminary stage of play. Since the Australians are unbeaten in seven World Cup matches, they can not be caught in the second round by either Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe, so they are through to the final four.

Australia scored 319-5 in 50 overs Friday, while Sri Lanka managed 223 runs in 47.4 overs. Ricky Ponting's century led the way for Australia as he tallied 114 runs. Adam Gilchrist came up just short of the century mark with a 99. Aravinda de Silva topped Sri Lanka with 92.

Besides the loss, Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya suffered a badly bruised left forearm and chipped left thumb. He was hit by Australian strike bowler Brett Lee and is in doubt for Monday's match against India.

In Cape Town Friday, India openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were dismissed in the opening five overs as India faltered in pursuit of Kenya's 225-6. India started with only 11-2. In the Kenyan innings of the Super 6 match, opener Kennedy Otieno survived some sloppy Indian fielding to score 79 before he was bowled through the gap by off spinner Harbhajan Singh.