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September 14, 2007
Australia 136 for 2 (Hayden 67*) beat England 135 (Flintoff 31, Bracken 3-16) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The cause of England's downfall was a muddled performance from their batsman, who seemed more distracted by Australia's pre-match predicament than the Aussies themselves. Though Kevin Pietersen had talked in gleeful terms of "humiliating" their oldest rivals and sending them home early, none of his team-mates were able to back up the big words with deeds. Pietersen bristled during a 20-ball cameo but yorked himself when well set on 21, Collingwood clobbered 18 quick runs then missed a low full-toss, and by the time the last five wickets had tumbled for eight runs, Andrew Flintoff's 31 from 19 balls was as good as England could offer.
After the Zimbabwe match, Ricky Ponting had called on his players to respect the game a little more, and this time Australia were a committed unit from the very first ball. Brett Lee, whose thunderbolts had been misdirected during Wednesday's defeat, conceded just nine runs in his first two overs to push England's openers onto the defensive, and he was superbly backed up by his fellow seamers - Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson - who took eight wickets between them and in doing so conceded no more than six runs an over.
England's top three were confronted by a pitch with more bounce than had been on offer in the opening two matches, and expended far too much energy swishing wildly outside off stump. Maddy, whose love of the cut shot has made him the highest score Englishman in Twenty20 history, failed to connect with a succession of cross-batted swipes before chipping tamely to Mike Hussey at mid-off; Matt Prior swung loosely to wide mid-on, while Luke Wright, who looked overawed by the occasion, failed to get his foot to the pitch of the ball in a wild six-ball stay which ended when he snicked a thin edge through to Gilchrist off Johnson.
At the end of the six-over fielding restrictions, England were stuck on an uneasy 35 for 1. Pietersen whistled his first ball through the covers for four, while Collingwood swiped a Lee free hit for a big six over midwicket, but both men fell when well set, as too did Flintoff, whose straight six off Andrew Symonds was as good as England's innings got.
Australia's approach with the bat could hardly have been more different or effective. Adam Gilchrist and Hayden were never less than positive in their intent during their 78-run stand for the first wicket, but their shot selection was much more measured than in that first match. Both batsmen chose to thread the ball rather than thump it as Stuart Broad and Flintoff shared the new ball, and their eyes were in by the time the fielding restrictions were lifted.
England's first bowling change signalled the change in intent. Collingwood brought himself in to take the pace off the ball, but Gilchrist responded by sweeping him dismissively into the midwicket stand for six. That was the cue for Hayden to lift his own tempo, and James Kirtley's first international over for three-and-a-half years went for 17 - three crashing fours from Hayden and a flicked half-volley from Gilchrist.
After six overs, Australia were cruising on 61 for 0 - almost double England's earlier effort. After an ineffectual over from Mascarenhas, England turned to the spin of Chris Schofield, who struck with his second delivery as Gilchrist, within one shot of a 28-ball half-century, lofted straight to Flintoff at long-on.
The set-back didn't slow Hayden, however, who piled into Mascarenhas with a monstrous smear over cow corner that had Pietersen wincing at the power of the shot, and then followed up with a delicate reverse-paddle for four. By now England's only consolation was they were guaranteed their progression to the second round, at the expense of the luckless Zimbabweans, who had been far more competitive in their own defeat against England than England themselves were now proving against the Aussies.
Flintoff returned to the attack, despite some very obvious discomfort with that troublesome ankle, and produced England's best moment in the field when he stuck out his left hand in his followthrough and nonchalantly plucked a lofted drive from Ponting out of thin air. But the end was already nigh, and Hayden delivered the coup de grace by walloping three consecutive fours as Schofield returned to the attack. A match that had begun amid huge hype and expectation had finished with a familiar English rout, and by the end, Ponting was even seen to be smiling again.
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