Australia stumble to victoryArunava Das |
The Australians notched up another victory after some jitters as England pressed hard defending only 155.
On a good batting track, England’s reinstated captain Andrew Flintoff chose to bat. Although rain briefly threatened to delay the start, the showers didn’t last and play was under way with England fielding a very different side to their last match.
Strauss opened the innings with 34 year old debutante Mal Loye. Loye was off to a confident start, driving Lee straight down the ground for his first runs in international cricket, while Strauss again struggled to pierce the field.
Australia elected to open the bowling with Bracken to partner Lee ahead of McGrath, and Bracken immediately found his groove, swinging the ball for the first few overs. However, Lee struggled on his return from illness as Loye looked to get a move on. The shot of the innings was undoubtedly a Loye sweep shot for six off a 150kmh delivery from Lee.
The momentum of the England innings ground to a halt with the dismissal of Loye however. Bracken was rewarded for an excellent spell with the new ball with his wicket, and the debutante was gone for 36. After that, it was a procession of batsmen coming and going as England slumped to 71-5.
McGrath picked up Strauss, falling to a brilliant diving catch from Hodge at midwicket, and Joyce was done in typical McGrath fashion as he edged one through to Gilchrist. Soon after, Bell was run out in another piece of superb fielding by Cameron White, and Collingwood was gone first ball to McGrath to give him three.
It was left to Flintoff and then Dalrymple to try to resurrect the England innings. Unfortunately for their cause, no other batsmen could spend enough time at the crease to allow any significant partnerships to build. Flintoff was gone to another gem of a catch from Hodge, and Dalrymple was gone trying to hit out with only the tail for company. The innings ended with England posting only 155.
The Aussies would have been looking at another easy victory, with a target of only 156 from 50 overs. However, they began slowly in their chase with neither Hayden or Gilchrist able to get away to a quick start. Gilchrist perished going for the big shot, and Hodge was gone soon after, caught off a leading edge playing across the line.
Hayden was the next to go as he attempted to force the pace, and Lewis had his second wicket. Both Lewis and Anderson bowled good lines to all the batsmen, and Anderson in particular tested the batsmen throughout his spell.
Lewis had his third wicket of the innings with Symonds going for an expansive drive only to be caught behind by Nixon. The score was 48-4 and the game was there for the taking for England. However, Clarke and Hussey had other ideas and steadily eroded the victory target while taking few risks.
The pair had taken the score to 93 when Lewis had Clarke caught behind down the leg side. Lewis finished with figures of 4-36, his best in One Day Internationals. Hussey was almost gone soon after when a confident appeal for caught behind was turned down by the umpires. Anderson soon had his second though, with White trapped plumb in front to an excellent delivery. With the score at 108-6, England still had a slim chance of getting their first victory against an Australian side this summer.
Unfortunately for England, Hussey and Lee had other ideas. The pair saw through the bowling of Lewis and Anderson, and with Flintoff and Tremlett unable to sustain the pressure, they cautiously made their way towards the target. As the target neared, Hussey opened up with a few hits to the boundary and saw the Aussies home by four wickets.
Mal Loye 36, Jamie Dalrymple 31
Nathan Bracken 3-24, Glenn McGrath 3-24
Michael Hussey 46*, Michael Clarke 36
Jon Lewis 4-36, James Anderson 2-29
Australia won by four wickets.