The Diwali night game between Australia and England turned out to be a one-sided contest turning in favour of the World Champs. The English batsmen put up a tame show after they were put into bat first by Ricky Ponting. The bowlers were no better who at one stage had the Aussies shaken up at 34 for 3 but they let Damien Martyn and Michael Hussey off the hook and with that the match. It was England who had started today’s game on a brighter note with the openers putting on 83 but it was a lackluster performance following that which saw England crash to a six wicket defeat with Aussies getting the 170 runs with 79 balls to spare.
With this comprehensive victory, the Aussies have kept their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals alive. The match had started under a possible threat of thunderstorms and the humidity was on the higher side at 61%. Ricky Ponting decided to field first as he was worried about the dew factor later in the evening. There was one change in the Australian line up with Brad Hogg giving way for left arm quick Mitchell Johnson. England remained unchanged and they had to put on something more than the 125 they had scored in their first match against India at this same venue to match their arch-rivals.
The Aussies started off with Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken who found no joy as Strauss and Bell put on a solid opening start. It was a needless shot from Ian Bell in the third powerplay that brought his downfall and also the downfall of his side. Bell fell after making 43 playing a backfoot drive off Shane Watson that carried straight to covers. Ian Bell had actually got a let off from Damien Martyn when he was on 23 at mid-off after Martyn had got himself into a tangle in taking a simple catch leaving the bowler Glenn McGrath absolutely angry. Big man Kevin Pietersen was promoted at no.3 instead of Freddie and he could make just a run before edging one that angled across him from Mitchell Johnson. The good start that England had got was minimized with the dismissal of Andrew Flintoff who fell playing the pull off Watson’s short and quick one to Hussey at deep mid wicket. Flintoff improved on his batting performance against India by four runs, he was out for a duck in that game.
Andrew Strauss had got his 12th ODI fifty and he required to carry on and on if England had any chance of putting up a fighting total. But once he was joined by Michael Yardy, the scoring came to a halt and with that the pressure fell on Strauss who gave up and got out edging Symonds’s off break to Gilchrist. Andrew Strauss had made 56 in 90 balls with 6 fours which was only half of the score required from him. The Aussies then made sure that there was no further partnership in the English innings and they wrapped up the innings in the 45th over, bowling out England for 169. Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson had picked up three wickets each while McGrath chipped in with a couple. Paul Collingwood who had come as low as no.6 was left stranded on 22 not out as he saw wickets going down in a hurry and he could just face the 38 balls in the innings. That was total wastage from England and also the fact that they could not play the remaining five regulation overs in their innings.
The Aussies started their chase in a reasonable fashion through Gilchrist and Watson. Play was halted in the 4th over when one of the light towers had turned off; it took some time before it was restored back to normalcy. The break came as a loss in concentration for Gilchrist as he didn’t get back and across to a short of length inswinger from Sajid Mahmood from round the stumps and it resulted in getting his off stump uprooted. It was Sajid Mahmood striking for the second time as Ricky Ponting played a tentative drive to edge an outswinger to Strauss at second slip. At the same score of 34, Shane Watson was bowled by James Anderson’s short delivery that wasn’t short enough for the pull.
Coming in at a tricky position of 34 for 3 in the 7th over, Damien Martyn along with Michael Hussey badly needed to stick there in the middle and work out a partnership. The England side required its seamers to sustain the pressure which they failed in doing so with Harmison, Sajid Mahmood bowling too many loose deliveries. There was one particular over from Harmison which saw three rank deliveries, all of which were dispatched to the boundary by Damien Martyn. It was a flier of a start that Martyn had got and he just utilized it to his advantage. Hussey at the other end was cautious and although he didn’t get the runs at a rate which he is used at getting, he ensured that England never came back in the match. Harmison struggled to bowl consistently well and he was taken for plenty of runs but he did return back with a consolation wicket of Damien Martyn but not before the stylish right hander had made 78 to take Aussies 18 short of victory. Martyn’s 78 had come in 91 balls with 12 fours. Hussey unbeaten on an 85-ball 32 and Symonds on 8 finished off the match in the 37th over. James Anderson was the better of all the English bowlers used and he went for 1 for 31 in his 9 overs. Michael Yardy who bowls or rather rolls his left arm spin at a quick pace of around 95kmph and more was only instrumental in delaying the English defeat with figures of none for 18 in 10 overs. Damien Martyn was celebrating his 35th birthday today and he was presented with the Man of the Match award for his match winning knock.