Mighty Aussies cruise into final

Ponting, Watson slam centuries as defending champions trounce England

Mighty Aussies cruise into final


 Australia’s Shane Watson plays a shot en route to his unbeaten century against England. APAustralia’s captain fantastic is a player for the big occasion, and few occasions are bigger than the semifinals of the Champions Trophy. With a wonderfully sculpted 28th limited-overs century, Ponting turbo-charged Australia to the final with a commanding nine-wicket rout of their old foes.

 His comrade-in-arms during the decimation was the phlegmatic Shane Watson, who shrugged off disastrous early tournament with a bruising third hundred. Unaffected by a 15-minute delay due to an invasion by ‘flying ants’ at the break, Australia made a mockery of England’s 257, racing to 258 for one with 49 deliveries to spare.

Tim Bresnan had exemplified England’s new-found steel in the afternoon, orchestrating a memorable rescue act with Luke Wright as Andrew Strauss’ men recovered from the depths of 101 for six at the start of the 21st over to post what appeared a competitive total.

That Ponting (1111 n.o., 115b, 12x4, 1x6) was in the mood and Watson (136 n.o., 132b, 10x4, 7x6) followed suit in the highest Aussie partnership for the second wicket (252 in 242 balls) made England’s score appear way below par on a beautiful strip where the ball came nicely on to the bat.

Ponting thus became the third batsman after Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya to reach 12,000 ODI runs.

England tasted early success when Graham Onions got rid of Tim Paine – who had a great time behind the sticks with five catches, three of them out of the top draw. Enter Ponting, and from that point, only one team was in the contest.

 There are few more breathtaking sights in international cricket than when the Australian captain is on song. The edginess that sometimes accompanies his early presence was nowhere in evidence as Ponting moved with felicity, producing exceptional drives through the covers.

 As if in over-compensation, England’s quicker bowlers pitched far too short, and were taken apart by Watson, becalmed for long periods but suddenly shedding the shackles with unbound fury. His pulling was of the highest order, the ball disappearing rapidly into the outfield and beyond, England brutally reminded of the 6-1 drubbing at home not so long back.

 An oft-repeated tale appeared to be unfolding in the afternoon itself when England found novel ways of courting disaster, carelessly frittering away the advantage presented by Strauss winning the toss.

 Despite repeated Aussie indiscretions in length and direction, England’s ultra-aggressiveness backfired when they lost six wickets in a heap. Bresnan, only playing because Stuart Broad was ruled out with a buttock muscle tear, changed that scenario with a pulverising innings. The big all-rounder, in the news for all the wrong reasons the previous day, kept the spotlight trained firmly on himself for all the right reasons in the company of an unnaturally subdued Wright.

 The seventh-wicket pair put on 107 (118b) with common sense and audacity to expose the lack of discipline in the Australian bowling. Bresnan (80, 76b, 11x4) had been under the microscope for a foul-mouthed rant on the social networking site Twitter after a fellow user had morphed an image of him, making him look overweight. The only thing meaty about him on Friday was a succession of pulverising blows.

 It wasn’t mindless clatter or a blind swing-and-hit. Wright is by nature an attacking batsman, at his happiest giving the ball a mighty whack. Aware that so much time was left in the innings, he embraced circumspection while Bresnan began with a flurry of boundaries, subtly transferring the pressure on to the Australians.
 Barring Brett Lee and Watson, there was neither hostility nor accuracy in the Australian bowling.

Newly crowned Cricketer of the Year Mitchell Johnson sprayed the ball around, Peter Siddle was only marginally better and Nathan Hauritz bowled as well as he was allowed to before Wright latched on to him with two massive sixes in one over.

Score board

ENGLAND
Strauss c Hopes b Siddle    14
(10b, 1x4, 1x6)
Denly c Paine b Siddle    36
(44b, 5x4)
Shah c Paine b Lee    0
(2b)
Collingwood c Paine b Johnson    34
(30b, 5x4, 1x6)
Morgan c Paine b Watson    9
(27b)
Davies b Watson    5
(4b)
Wright c Paine b Siddle    48
(68b, 2x4, 2x6)
Bresnan b Lee    80
(76b, 11x4)
Swann (run out)    18
(14b, 2x4)
Anderson (not out)    5
(9b)
Onions (run out)    1
(2b)
Extras (W-6, NB-1)    7
Total (all out, 47.4 overs)    257
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Strauss), 2-16 (Shah), 3-71 (Collingwood), 4-91 (Denly), 5-100 (Davies), 6-101 (Morgan), 7-208 (Wright), 8-245 (Swann), 9-251 (Bresnan).
Bowling: Lee 9-0-46-2 (w-1, nb-1), Siddle 10-0-55-3 (w-1), Hopes 4-0-28-0, Johnson 10-1-61-3 (w-3), Watson 8.4-1-35-2 (w-1), Hauritz 6-0-32-0.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 68/2; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 18/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 46-50 overs: 13/3.
 AUSTRALIA
Watson (not out)    136
(132b, 10x4, 7x6)
Paine c Davies b Onions    4
(4b, 1x4)
Ponting (not out)    111
(115b, 12x4, 1x6)
Extras (LB-2, W-5)    7
Total (for 1 wkt, 41.5 overs)    258
Fall of wicket: 1-6 (Paine).
Bowling: Anderson 8.5-0-48-0 (w-1), Onions 8-0-47-1 (w-3), Bresnan 8-0-51-0 (w-1), Collingwood 8-0-50-0, Swann 5-0-31-0, Wright 3-0-18-0, Shah 1-0-11-0.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 63/1; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 16/0; Power Play 3 (batting): 41-45 overs: 28/0.

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