Collingwood slays Australia

England have pulled off a remarkable victory over Australia in the first final of the Commonwealth Bank ODI Series.

Australia brought Brad Hogg into their side, as well as welcoming Shane Watson back into the fold.

As for England, their only change was an enforced one, Mal Loye replacing the injured Michael Vaughan at the top of the order.

Australia won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to bat first, on a pitch which looked good for batting, despite being slightly on the slow side.

Matthew Hayden wasted no time settling in, smashing Mahmmood and Plunkett with relative ease, and hogging the strike in the process.

Australia had moved on to 32 from 5.3 overs, when Gilchrist attempted to loft a slower ball from Mahmood over Flintoff, succeeding only in finding the man. He departed for five, while Ricky Ponting strode in to the crease. He survived a scare off his first ball, which flew off the edge and landed just short of Dalrymple, but after that it was plain sailing for Hayden and himself.

Playing with consummate ease and an attacking attitude, the pair spared no bowler, accumulating runs at will in a magnificent 138 run partnership.

The only two chances of note were an LBW appeal against Hayden which could have been given, and a catastrophic attempt at a simple run-out of Hayden by Jamie Dalrymple and Monty Panesar.

Finally, with the score on 170, England broke through, courtest of a stunning catch by Collingwood after Ponting had viciously cut a long-hop from Panesar to short cover.

It was the lift England needed, and they never looked back. Ponting had made 75. Ten runs later, Hayden departed for 82, caught by Mahmood at long on off Dalrymple, after attempting to send the ball into outer space.

Brad Hodge then joined Michael Clarke at the crease, but he departed for five with the score on 196, after having been controversially adjudged LBW to Panesar.

Mike Hussey then came in and appeared to be building a partnership with Clarke, but on 229 Clarke fell for 33, brilliantly run out by Collingwood.

Mike Hussey then departed for 17, caught by Paul Nixon off Andrew Flintoff without Australia having added any runs.

Shane Watson and Brad Hogg then added 19, only for Hogg to be caught By Ian Bell for 10, leaving Australia on 248-7.

Paul Collingwood then completed a hat-trick of spectacular fielding dismissals, running Brett Lee out for 0 with another direct hit, and with the Australian score not having moved on.

On 250 Shane Watson was caught by Bell off Mahmood for 9, and the innings was completed when Flintoff yorked Glenn McGrath for 0 with the score on 252.

England then came out to bat, but were soon cursing their luck when Mal Loye was unfairly given out LBW to Lee for 0, with the score on one.

With the score on 14 Ed Joyce departed, tamely chipping Lee to McGrath at mid-on for six. And just when it looked as though it couldn’t get any worse, Andrew Strauss was given out LBW to Nathan Bracken despite having clearly nicked the ball.

It was a duck for Strauss, and it should have been the final nail in the coffin for England, who found themselves at 15-3.

However, Bell and Collingwood had other ideas. Slowly but surely, they began to frustrate the Australian bowlers, especially after Bell was dropped by McGrath at fine-leg.

Without taking too many untoward risks, the pair kept building the score up, building the perfect platform from which to finish the game.

It was going to take something special to produce a breakthrough, and Brett Lee produced it with the score on 148, bowling the perfect yorker to dismiss Bell for a splendid 65, thus ending a 133 run partnership.

Flintoff then joined Collingwood, and the pair took England to within touching distance by playing sensible cricket, Collingwood reaching a magnificent century in the process.

However, on 222 Flintoff was caught by Gilchrist off Watson for 35.

When Jamie Dalrymple was then run out for three with the score on 225, England might have felt that they had thrown the game away, but no-one told Nixon and Collingwood. They accumulated the singles, while Collingwood duly punished the bad balls, until they had brought it down to eight runs needed off eight balls.

Collingwood then smashed a McGrath half volley straight down the ground for four, making the last over much easier in the process. Fittingly, he hit the winning runs with three balls to go, capping off a truely memorable personal and team performance.

Australia 252
Matthew Hayden 82, Ricky Ponting 75
Andrew Flintoff 3-41, Monty Panesar 2-44, Sajid Mahmood 2-45

England won by 4 wickets

England 253-6
Paul Collingwood 120*, Ian Bell 65, Andrew Flintoff 35
Brett Lee 3-41

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