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June 30, 2010
News : Andrew Strauss upset at whitewash that got away
Report : Clarke and Harris star in consolation win
Matches: England v Australia at The Oval
Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Ireland
Golden arm of the day
Ryan Harris was the quickest bowler on show during the opening fixture of this series at the Rose Bowl - and if Shaun Tait's belated inclusion has ensured that accolade is now long-forgotten, his value to Australia is becoming increasingly clear. He's never yet gone wicketless in 16 ODI appearances, and today's figures of 5 for 32 were his best since his consecutive five-fors against Pakistan back in January. He started England's slide with the wickets of Craig Kieswetter and Pietersen in consecutive overs, then struck with the second delivery of two subsequent spells to remove Eoin Morgan for 47 and Tim Bresnan for 22. His five wickets came in the space of 31 balls, at a cost of 18.
Glare of the day
Throughout this series, Shane Watson has been a model of consistency at the top of the Australian order, but unfortunately - with scores of 32, 57, 61 and now 41 - it's the wrong sort of consistency for a team that needs its set players to push on to big scores. And so the shot he produced in the first over of Graeme Swann's spell - a limp, lofted heave to wide long-on - was precisely what his skipper, Ricky Ponting, did not want. As Watson dropped to his knees, almost pleading for the fielder to muff the opportunity, Punter looked on from the non-striker's end with a look that Captain Mainwaring might have given to Private Pike. "Stupid boy!"
Drop of the day
Michael Clarke was once again Australia's anchor as he became only the ninth batsman in ODI history - and the third Aussie after Dean Jones and Brad Hodge - to be stranded on 99 not out. But it could have been so different had James Anderson, one of England's most reliable fielders, clung onto a sharp but regulation chance when Clarke had made just 5. The opportunity arose in Graeme Swann's third over, a fast and flat drive into the covers that burst through Anderson's hands as he dived across to gather. It would have left Australia wobbling on 83 for 3, but instead Clarke and Ponting injected some backbone with a third-wicket stand of 155.
Sacrifice of the day
Clarke went into the final over of Australia's innings on 98 not out, with every opportunity to rack up his fifth ODI hundred. But for all his undoubted merits, improvisatory slogging is not his forte, and with Australia's total still lacking a gloss finish at 278 for 5, he realised that the man at the other end - Steven Smith, who had just tonked consecutive boundaries to round off Anderson's spell - was probably better placed to apply the necessary humpty. So he settled for a single as he mistimed a drive to mid-off, then rested on his bat-handle for the remainder of the over. Clarke might have had a chance to pinch the strike when an air-shot was fumbled by the keeper, but seeing as Smith boshed 11 valuable runs from the final five balls, it was probably the right decision.
Powerplay of the day
The third Powerplay is supposed to be a late-innings treat for the batting side, but as often as not it over-complicates the tempo and coaxes well-set players out of their comfort zones. That is exactly what happened to Ponting, who had been playing with the channelled fury of a scorned legend as he moved inexorably towards his fourth century in ODIs in England. The 43rd over was the right time to go for it - he and Clarke had brought up their 150 stand and Andrew Strauss was running low on ideas - but from the very first delivery, bowled by Anderson, he leant back on a drive and picked out Strauss himself on the edge of the circle at extra cover.
Howler of the day
Legspinners are a rarity in modern-day international cricket. Warne, Kumble, Mushy and MacGill have all had their day and have left the stage free for an offspin revival with the likes of Swann and Hauritz to the fore - which perhaps explains why Aleem Dar thought that a delivery from the new leggie on the block, Smith, that pitched outside off and turned further towards the slips was a viable candidate for an lbw decision. Paul Collingwood was the victim, and it left England in some serious strife at 90 for 4 in the 20th over. Ironically, Collingwood took his lbw verdict rather better than Kevin Pietersen had done for his own dismissal - which replays showed was stone-dead.
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