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    Australia brush aside listless Canada

    Australia go to top of Group A with an easy seven-wicket win.

    Bengaluru: Shane Watson and Brad Haddin put on a commanding opening stand of 183 to lead Australia to a seven-wicket win over Canada on Wednesday, lifting the defending World Cup champion atop Group A with one game remaining.

    After failing to bowl out Kenya on Sunday, Australia's high-profile attack endured an early batting onslaught from fearless teenager Hiral Patel, who bludgeoned a dazzling 37-ball half century that helped Canada reach 50 faster than any team in the tournament.

    But Brett Lee took 4-46 to lead the Australian recovery as Canada was bowled out for 211 in 45.4 overs.

    Watson (94) and Haddin (88) recorded Australia's best opening partnership at a World Cup as the three-time defending champion reached their target in the 35th over, finishing at 212-3.

    Australia took its unbeaten World Cup run to 34 matches and remains the only side without defeat at the tournament.

    Ricky Ponting's squad can finish atop Group A with a win over Pakistan at Colombo on Saturday. Canada exits the tournament with one win and five losses but, just like Kenya, the Associate nation can at least depart having given the four-time World Cup winner some uncomfortable moments.

    After Canada skipper Ashish Bagai won the toss and opted to bat, attention turned initially to 40-year-old John Davison as he returned to the top of the order on his final international appearance, but it was his junior opening partner who stole the show.

    Patel refused to be intimidated by the pace of Shaun Tait and Lee and delighted a sparse crowd by plundering the attack, including 16 runs off Lee's first over and a brutal six over extra cover in Tait's second.

    Davison briefly participated in the onslaught, hitting Lee for consecutive boundaries in the fourth over before edging the next ball to Haddin, with his final international innings ending on 14.

    Canada scored at more than 10 runs per over in the first four overs and raced to 77-1 after 10.

    The 19-year-old Patel, playing in his 14th ODI and only third against a Test team, survived the examination by Australia's quick bowlers but it was the medium pace of Watson which eventually cost his wicket when he slashed a short delivery to third man.

    Bagai and Surkaki steadied the innings until the wicket of Surkaki, a ball after being felled by a full toss from Tait which crashed into his upper thigh. That sparked a run of five wickets for 19 runs.

    The tail end of Canada's innings was notable mainly for the worsening mood of Ponting, who appeared to hurt his finger in the field.

    First, he called for a skied catch to dismiss Harvir Baidwan only to almost collide with the onrushing Steve Smith. Ponting took the catch to give Jason Krejza his second wicket, then threw the ball into the turf furiously.

    The Australia skipper subsequently missed a run-out attempt after dropping the ball from Michael Clarke's throw, but the reliable Lee ended Canada's innings by rattling rookie Karl Whatham's stumps to take his tournament tally to eight wickets.

    Canada's flamboyant start in reaching 50 inside five overs was in stark contrast to Australia's circumspect approach — its first 50 coming off 12 overs.

    Henry Osinde and Baidwan troubled Australia's opening pair and if Canada had had a bit more luck and taken its chances, the match might have been more competitive.

    Watson was on two when he top-edged a Baidwan delivery high into the night sky, only for Rizwan Cheema to make a mess of the catch. Watson was again let off the hook on 28 when Nitish Kumar appeared to let the ball fly past him at deep midwicket off Balaji Rao's bowling.

    Australia's innings ticked along though, always keeping above the required rate, and when the batting powerplay was taken in the 21st over — before Canada had taken its powerplay — Haddin and Watson took the foot off the pedal.

    Watson powered an astonishing four sixes in 14 balls — one of 104 meters — before Haddin feathered a catch to Bagai to give Davison a wicket in his final game.

    Watson departed not long after, failing for the third time in the tournament to convert a 50 into a century, and Ponting's day got worse when he mistimed a pull and was caught by Davison on seven to continue a miserable run with the bat.

    But Clarke (16 not out) and Cameron White (4 not out) guided the Australians home comfortably.

    (Full Scorecard)