June 10, 2001

Ponting century sets up last-over Australian win in Bristol

One-day cricket may be a different ball game but today's Australia v England contest was bound to give the two teams a fair idea of what to expect in the Ashes Series.

Ricky Ponting
Ponting gets his ton
Photo © CricInfo
In the most exciting match of the NatWest Series in Bristol, Australia bettered England in a nail-biting finish. Chasing 269 runs, Australia just got there for the loss of five wickets but with only three balls spare. It was the type of contest that makes modern cricket nerve wracking, for not many nails were left unbitten. While England's Nick Knight (84) and Marcus Trescothick (69) had raised their team to a commanding position, for Australia, Ricky Ponting with his fabulous century, lead the way to a glorious victory.

Earlier, England started steadily, losing Ally Brown (12) and scoring only 25 runs in the first 10 overs. The highly projected pace attack of Glenn McGrath and Bret Lee was accurate but not deadly.

After grafting themselves in, Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight opened up to hit a flurry of fours and sixes, hoisting the 50 in the 14th over and continuing briskly.

Trescothick cuts a Warne delivery
Photo © CricInfo
The way Trescothick (45) and Knight (40) brought up the 100 in 20 overs through a volley of fours and sixes, made Australia's bowling look ordinary. After completing their individual half-centuries both the batsmen continued with their aggressive style to add quick runs.

England lost their second wicket on 137 through a mix up between the two players resulting in Trescothick getting run out after scoring a flawless 69. After 30 overs England was 147 for 2.

Australia got the third break at 189, when Shane Warne at mid-wicket smartly caught Nick Knight off Brett Lee after a marvellous innings of 84. With this great innings Knight also completed his 2000 runs in one-day cricket. His partner Alec Stewart (25) followed him quickly bringing England down to 198 for 4.

Assuming better control of the game, Australia managed to restrict scoring to such an extent that England's 200 came in the 43rd over; puzzling given that they still had the major chunk of their batting intact.

Nick Knight
Knight slams a 6
Photo © CricInfo
Some fire works, however, thrilled the crowd, in the final stage of the innings. A 70-run partnership between Ben Hollioake (37*) and newcomer Owais Shah (28*) in 45 balls took England's total to a fighting 268 for four. Brett Lee captured two wickets while McGrath could pinch only one.

Scoring only 16 runs in the first seven overs, and losing Adam Gilchrist's wicket on 12, Australia did not take a brilliant start. The arrival of Ricky Ponting brought some thrill to the game when the next four overs yielded 28 runs. Both Ponting and Mark Waugh delighted the crowd by hitting a six each off Alan Mullally and hoisting 50 of the innings in the 13th over.

Australia registered their 100 in the 23rd over, but lost the important wicket of Mark Waugh who was bowled by Dominic Cork for a useful 46. In the meantime Ricky Ponting had completed his 50.

Ponting and Damien Martyn were in complete command of the game. Though the required run rate was above six, they were constantly maintaining it, getting closer and closer to the target. They raised the total to 171 in 35 overs.

The game changed all of a sudden when Martyn, having made a useful 46 was bowled by Mullally at 198. The man who had built up Australia's innings, Ricky Ponting, was then run out after scoring a glorious 102. England was now almost back in the game.

Australia lost the fifth wicket on 230 when Gough bowled Andrew Symonds for a quickfire 23. Needing 29 runs to win in 29 balls, the match was evenly poised. The crowd was excited and chewing their nails away. The onus of victory rested with skipper Steve Waugh and Ian Harvey, fighting the battle against a fired up England side.

In conditions packed with tension and excitement the batsmen were stealing the runs required per over. Australia hit the crucial blow when Harvey hit Hollioake for a towering six on the last ball of the 49th over. By scoring 272 for 5 with 3 balls to spare, Australia defeated England in a photo finish. Darren Gough clinched two wickets while Cork and Mullally shared one each.