Australia 302 for 6 (Ponting 126, Clarke 52) beat England 299 (Morgan 58) by four wickets
I was rather hoping for rain so we would all be spread yet another tedious, one sided affair but alas no. England won the toss for the 5th match in succession, and again chose to bat. Dimi Mascarenhas came into the side for Luke Wright who injured his foot facing a bowling machine a few days ago. Australia chose to give Brett Lee a breather after his devastating performance in the last game, so what was already likely to be an underwhelming game now had to contend with the absence of the most exciting bowler. Great. Peter Siddle replaced him in the line up.
After what could best be described as a watchful start, England moved through the gears courtesy yet again of Andrew Strauss who was operating at a little under a run a ball as England reached 50 without loss in the 12th over. Once he fell in the 14th over though, LBW to Hauritz for 35 trying the reverse sweep, it would have been fair for the crowd to expect a mini collapse. That had been the norm up to now in the series anyway, one down quickly becoming three down between the 15th over and the end of the 20th over. This time round Denly and Bopara got England through to the fourth ball of the 20th over when Bopara, for some reason best known to himself, tried to smash Shane Watson over the square leg fence and picked out the fielder. Well done Ravi, a valuable 18 from 21 balls. Just what England needed from their number three batsman. Matt Prior was in next.
Shortly after Engerland reached three figures, the third wicket fell. Denly gone for an entertaining 45 but why, when Strauss and Bopara were already out, he felt it would be a good idea to walk across his stumps and try and whip Mitchell Johnson up in to the on side will forever remain a mystery. I know he’s only new in the side but as an opening bat he should have been looking to stay where he was until the fortieth over at least. If he got out fair enough but shots like that are why England are routinely below par and left with bowlers to score runs during the last powerplay. Three down after 23 overs, so just about running true to form. Prior joined by Shah.
At the 30 over mark these two had both passed twenty at almost a run a ball and England were 149-3. Double the score after 30 overs remember so they were on course for 300, provided Shah didn’t run himself or his partner out and trigger a collapse. He didn’t, but Prior got himself stumped charging down the pitch to Hauritz to end a 60 run partnership. Stupidness again, as he had already hit the previous ball, only the second of the over, for four. Still plenty of batting to come for England though as they took drinks at 165-4. Hauritz completed his ten overs finishing with figures of 2-54.
England took the remarkable step of taking the third powerplay before the 40th over while there were still batsmen at the crease. One over into that Shah wafted his bat outside the off stump and was caught, which brought six hitter extraordinaire Mascarenhas out to face almost fours overs of powerplay. Another English batsman gone meekly between 20 and 40. The powerplay yielded 45 runs for England, but for the loss of two wickets. Mascarenhas out for 19 from 13 giving Johnson his second wicket, Stuart Broad in with 8 overs still to go. At the other end Eoin Morgan was going well with 39 from 29 balls. England 231-6 and the innings could have gone either way at this stage.
Morgan knew which way he was going though, bringing up a fine fifty in the 45th over with a slog sweep six. His third 6, and the fifty up from 37 balls. Stuart Broad joined in the fun with a bright and breezy and hard hitting 22, he as run out by dead eye Ponting with 3 overs to go. Shane Watson through his 10 overs with 2-60. Morgan fell three balls later which meant that two new batsmen would have to face the final two and a bit overs. 58 for Morgan from 41 balls.
Bresnan didn’t last long and the last man Sidebottom was in with an over and a half to go. He assisted Adil Rashid in lifting England up to 299. Eighteen runs from the last over with Rashid run out off the last ball going for the 19th. 299, that’s right, a good total! Despite the annoyance of so many batsmen getting in and set and getting themselves out, the top 9 all scored double figures, three of them 30+ one 40+ and one 50+ so well done England.
They would have been confident of defending that, but so too would Ponting and his men have been confident of chasing it down. And, inevitably, they did. They set off at pace, reaching 45 before the first wicket fell in the 9th over, but the problem with getting one man down in the Australian line up is that it just brings Ricky Ponting to the crease. And the problem with getting the second opener out, as they did in the 15th over with the score on 76, is that it brings Michael Clarke to the crease.
This last night had the result that it was 132 run later before England got their third wicket. Michale Clarke gave it away on 52 minutes after Ponting had reached his hundred. Australia 209-3 so with 91 runs still to get the game wasn’t quite in the bag, but these two had got pretty close to it.
Hussey couldn’t offer Ponting much support but with the Australian captain in this sort of form the game was surely only heading one way. With ten overs to go the Aussies were 230-4, needing 70 from 60 balls with a batting powerplay still to take.
They took the powerplay in the 44th over needing just 47 to win, but disaster struck for them and hope appeared for England as Broad took two wickets in the over including that of Ponting to leave them reeling with two new batsmen at the crease still needing 39. English hope didn’t last long though as a combination of poor bowling and clean hitting saw Australia in the form of Cameron White and Mitchell Johnson canter home with 10 balls to spare. Johnson finished the match with a huge six over long on.
So hats off to Ponting whose hundred was his first in a one day international for 18 months. England’s fielding was sloppy and catching poor, with a better display in the field they might have snuck it but credit to Australia for whom Ponting and Clarke set up the game and a perfectly timed powerplay was played out expertly by White and Johnson to recover from the loss of 2 wickets in the first over. In the end the game was never in doubt, England had a sniff at the start of the Australian innings, and when Ponting fell, but those two moments aside Australia were always in control.
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