DateLine: 2nd October 2009
Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson struck undefeated centuries Friday as title holders Australia crushed England by nine wickets to reach the Champions Trophy final.
Watson, recovering from a nightmare start to the tournament that saw him out twice for a duck, finished on 136 and skipper Ponting fired 111 in a batting masterclass.
Injury-prone Watson slammed 10 fours and seven sixes and also took two wickets to capture the man-of-the-match award while the ever dependable Ponting weighed in with 12 fours and one six.
For Ponting there was also the personal satisfaction of becoming only the third batsman after Sachin Tendulkar of India and Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka to pass the 12,000 ODI run mark.
England recovered from a disastrous start to reach 257 in 47.4 overs thanks largely to 80 from unlikely hero Tim Bresnan at SuperSport Park after skipper Andrew Strauss won the toss on a clear, warm afternoon.
But after dismissing opener Tim Paine with just six runs on the board, the England bowlers suffered as Ponting and Watson cracked the ball to every area of the ground.
It was a superb show by Australia, who topped a group including Pakistan, India and the West Indies while rarely moving into overdrive in the two-week mini-World Cup.
And England must hope they do not have to face the arch rivals for a long time as this was their seventh defeat by the Australians in eight outings having lost a home ODI series 6-1 last month.
Australia now take a two-day rest before facing Pakistan or 2000 winners New Zealand, who clash Saturday on a Wanderers wicket that can do strange things, in a final offering two million dollars to the winners.
Strauss was first to go with the score on 15 as England imploded to 101-6 before Bresnan and Luke Wright took the fight to the Aussies and added 107 for the seventh wicket.
The brave stand ended when Wright got a thick edge to a wide delivery from Peter Siddle and Paine took his fifth catch in a show famous predecessors Ian Healy and Andrew Gilchrist would have approved of.
Bresnan, playing only because a buttock strain ruled bowler Stuart Broad out, carried on until bowled by Brett Lee, whose yorker uprooted the middle stump.
Given their perilous state 21 overs into the game, Strauss must have been relieved if not satisfied to set Australia a target of 258 on a track that had some grass, cracks and reasonable bounce.
But after the early exit of Paine, England endured nothing but pain and a fair-size crowd had plenty to cheer as the predicted rain and thunderstorms never materialised.
(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)
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