Australia lived up to their expectation and defeated a rather innocuous English side with relative ease to maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament. Batting first the English posted a total of 251 at the loss of eight wickets.
The English team began in the usual manner with turmoil at the top of the order! The side lost two quick wickets which brought Kevin Pietersen to the middle. He struck a magnificent century for his side and strung a valuable partnership with Ian Bell who too showed glimpses of fine batting skills in the center. Bell contributed 77 in an innings that had caution and aggression in equal proportion. Pietersen on the other hand did what he does best- play in an unplugged manner! He played in the most non text book like manner sweeping, flicking and dancing down the track to the bowlers! Despite his unorthodox batting style he kept the Aussie bowlers at bay as he along with Bell laid the platform for a big total.
But then came the anti climax. After these two had put a brave show, they gave away their wickets to some disciplined Aussie bowling. Collingwood and Flintoff who followed suit failed to add to the total and departed very cheaply in a hurry leaving the inexperienced Bopara and the bowlers to finish the job. Bopara did a decent job and the team ended up reaching a total of 251 which was atleast twenty to twenty five runs short of the expected total.
The Australian batsmen began in their usual manner- vigil and attack. The openers after settling down started to unleash their strokes against an English attack which appeared without ‘teeth’. None of the bowlers appeared to be threatening and the Aussies rambled along with relative ease to chase the total. The day for the Aussies belonged to captain Ricky Ponting who made a brilliant 86 from 106 balls. He was given good company by Michael Clarke who made a half century. The two together did the bulk of the scoring and eventually the team cruised home with 7 wickets to spare.
The English team looks weak without a good strike bowler. Chances of its going through to the next round look bleak as the team would struggle later. It would require a Herculean effort by its mainstay players like Flintoff, Collingwood and Pietersen to see the team through to the next round!
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