Coming into this game, Australian cricketers were still basking in their recent 6-1 thrashing of England, and memories of that victory were relived when the grandiose alliance of Ponting and Watson literally turned the Centurion into a two-man affair, breaking records and creating landmarks en route to a nine-wicket victory with 49 balls to spare.
Andrew Strauss won the toss and chose to bat, but was caught by James Hopes at square leg in the second over, after scoring a four and a six in his first eight deliveries.
This marked the beginning of Englands demise, which was beyond a turn-back in the in the 21st over.
Batting with the aggression they showed in the early stages of the competition, England lost six wickets for 101, with about half of their overs remaining.
Owais Shah was taken out for a duck, Paul Collingwood at 34 and Joe Denly for 36 by wicketkeeper Paine, who went on to perform two more catches on Eoin Morgan (9) and Luke Wright (48).
When Australia took over the batting, Ponting hit seven successive fours on course to his first 29 runs, as Englands bowlers looked jaded thereby making it even easier for the Australians to steamroll past them.
Personally, Ponting chalked up his 28th one-day century and became the first Australian cricketer to reach a career record of 12,000 runs, on course to an unbeaten 111 from 115 balls.
Watson, dogged by injuries during the past few months, weighed in with the annotation finish – 136 not out from 132 balls for his third century in 89 games, while the two batsmen combined to score their country’s highest partnership in limited-overs cricket, scoring 252 runs in 242 balls.
Bit by bit, the target of 258 became an easily surmountable task for the defending champions, as Watson’s seven sixes, 10 fours, Pontings 10 fours and one six, proved to be exactly what the doctor had ordered to remedy the quick departure of Paine after scoring a mere four runs.
As losing semi-finalists, perennial chokers England are now resigned to receiving US$400 000 of the prize money, and will have to wait two more years for their first ICC Champions Trophy triumph so near yet so far.Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News