Australia Crush England To Reach Trophy Final

Australia Crush England To Reach Trophy Final
Australia Crush England To Reach Trophy Final
©REUTERS/Rogan Ward (SOUTH AFRICA SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images

Australia 258-1 (Watson 136no, Ponting 110no) beat
England 257 (Bresnan 80, Siddle 3-55) by nine wickets

ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Final, Centurion

Sublime batting from Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson guided Australia into the ICC Champions Trophy final with a crushing nine-wicket win over England in the first semi-final at Centurion.

Both men scored centuries as they cruised past a target of 258 and the only thing that looked like stopping them winning the match was a swarm of insects which delayed the start of their run chase.

Once that had cleared, Australia sauntered into Monday's final, where they will play New Zealand, with more than eight overs to spare, Ponting unbeaten on 111 and Shane Watson unbeaten on 136 as the pair put on an unbroken stand of 252 for the second wicket.

After themselves staging an impressive recovery from 101 for six to be bowled out for 257, England needed early wickets to stay in the game and they got one when Tim Paine (4) edged Graham Onions to wicket-keeper Steven Davies but thereafter they were frustrated by some of the purest stroke play you could wish to see as runs flowed from the bats of Ponting and Watson.

Watson smashed ten fours and seven sixes in 132 balls and Ponting hit 12 boundaries and one maximum in 115 balls, neither man offering so much as a genuine chance throughout the innings.

Both men also reached milestones in style. Having passed 12,000 ODI runs with a pulled boundary, Ponting reached his 28th ODI century with a sumptuously-driven four through the covers and Watson went two better, pulling James Anderson for six to pass three figures in an ODI for the third time.

Soon after they passed the 206-run partnership record at Centurion that had only been set earlier in the tournament by Pakistan pair Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf against India. The next record they passed was the highest second wicket partnership by two Australians in an ODI, overtaking a record set by Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, also against England, in 2002.

Another six ensured that no other pair of Australian batsmen had added more runs together in an ODI and it was one of three that came from one Paul Collingwood over towards the end.

It must also be said that some of England's tactics were confusing, as they appeared desperate to feed the pair with short balls and some of the fielding, so good earlier in the tournament against South Africa, was of the exceptionally poor variety.

Nothing, however, must be taken away from the way in which the Australians batted; it was as if they were batting on a different pitch and had they been set 357 to win, you wouldn't have been surprised to see them make it.

Earlier, a 107-run seventh-wicket partnership between Tim Bresnan (80) and Luke Wright (48) at least put a semi-competitive total on the board for England.

Coming together with their side in desperate trouble having lost their top six batsmen inside 21 overs, Bresnan's maiden ODI half-century and Wright's well-paced innings kept them in the game.

Bresnan clubbed 80 in 76 balls with 11 fours and Wright's runs came from 68 balls with two fours and he hit Nathan Hauritz for two sixes.

England won the toss but were soon in trouble when Andrew Strauss (14) was well caught by James Hopes off of Peter Siddle and Owais Shah (0) flicked Brett Lee to Paine.

Paine went on to claim five catches in the innings, including those of major top order contributors Joe Denly (36) and Collingwood (34).

Davies marked his ODI debut by being bowled by Watson for five and it was Siddle who ended the Bresnan-Wright partnership when Wright flashed at a wide delivery to give Paine one of the easiest catches he had to take and the ICC Emerging Player Of The Year returned three for 55.

Lee and Watson picked up two wickets before a mix-up between last-wicket pair James Anderson and Onions saw the innings end with a run out two balls prior to the end of the 48th over.

For Collingwood, this was his 170th ODI, equalling the English record held by Alec Stewart but he will have to wait to make the record his own. Australia now look to create history by becoming the first team to both retain the Champions Trophy and win the tournament more than once.

© Cricket World 2009