Superb Watson Century Too Good For England
Australia 297-4 (Watson 161no) beat
England 294 (Pietersen 78) by 6 wickets
First One-Day International, Melbourne
Shane Watson hammered a brilliant unbeaten century to hand Australia a six-wicket victory over England in the first One-Day International at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Watson's career-best 161 ensured his side overhauled England's score of 294 and he sealed the win in style, hitting Ajmal Shahzad for a six off the first ball of the final over.
In all, the opener blasted 12 fours and four sixes as he faced 150 balls to put Australia 1-0 up in the seven-match series. He shared century stands with Brad Haddin (39) and Michael Clarke (36) and although England slowed the run-rate in the middle overs, an important knock of 21 in 15 balls from Michael Hussey brought the game back towards Australia.
It was then left to Watson and Cameron White (25 not out in 23 balls) to finish the job and they did so in fine style, ensuring that an asking rate of 12 to win in 12 balls was not beyond them.
The other man to be dismissed was Steven Smith, who had been promoted to number four in the order but could only make five before he was caught by Michael Yardy off Shahzad.
Tim Bresnan returned two for 71, removing Clarke and Hussey, while there was also a wicket for Graeme Swann but the wicket they really needed -that of Watson's - never came and that allowed Australia to set a new record for run chases in ODIs at the ground.
England had appeared well placed at the interval after half-centuries from Andrew Strauss (63) and Kevin Pietersen (78) left them just shy of 300.
Strauss and Steven Davies (42) put on 90 for the first wicket but thereafter they struggled to build big partnerships as Jonathan Trott (6), Eoin Morgan (8) and Yardy (9) all fell cheaply.
Pietersen held things together facing 75 balls and hitting two fours and three sixes and support came from Ian Bell, who made 23, and Bresnan, who made 28.
Brett Lee, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson and Smith all took two wickets to ensure England were bowled out with two balls unused.
The second game, in Hobart, is on 21st January.
© Cricket World 2011