Pietersen powers England home
England 253 for 7 (Pietersen 91*, Vaughan 57) defeated Australia 252 for 9 (Hussey 84, Clarke 45, Harmison 5-33) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball
Kevin Pietersen starred with the bat and Steve Harmison with the ball as England consigned Australia to their fourth successive defeat in a topsy-turvy match at Bristol. The destructive Pietersen struck yet another matchwinning innings with 91 from 65 balls and Harmison took 5 for 33 - his first five-wicket haul in one-dayers - as England won by three wickets to complete a miserable week for Australia. Harmison did the early damage, reducing the visitors to 63 for 4, but they recovered to post 252 with Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke leading the recovery, putting on 105 for the fifth wicket. The total was looking out of England's reach, at least, that was until Pietersen arrived at the crease.
When he came in, England were ambling along, still needing six an over from the last 22 overs after Michael Vaughan contributed a composed 57 from 92 balls. But, as he did in South Africa, Pietersen upped the tempo to totally change the complexion of the match - and the effect was devastating. He was in ever-determined mood and Jason Gillespie was the recipient of much of the punishment. He took 17 from Gillespie's last over, as the hapless seamer was battered for 66 in his ten overs, including three towering sixes from Pietersen. Mike Kasprowicz lacked penetration, too, and Pietersen helped himself to a six off him for good measure. In all Pietersen struck eight fours and four sixes.
It was a tense match, swinging back and forth, and Gilchrist and Hayden got Australia off to a flyer, each launching Jon Lewis for a sumptuous six over mid-wicket and their fifty partnership came up inside ten overs. Then in one chaotic over, Harmison removed Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn. Australia were in trouble at 57 for 3 and worse was to come, when Harmison struck again in his next over to dismiss Matthew Hayden. Then came their fightback.
Gilchrist had a good day with the bat and behind the stumps - he shied down the stumps to remove Solanki late on - and he had batted well for his 27 until Harmison beat him with extra bounce and he edged through. Ponting was dismissed first ball, his second lbw of the weekend. Martyn left the hat-trick ball to sail past his off stump, but his judgement was less than shrewd to the next delivery which he upper cut over gully to Pietersen at third man. Paul Collingwood then pulled off a dizzying catch at gully to remove Hayden and hand Harmison his fourth wicket when leaping high - as if from a trampoline - he plucked a firmly struck cut with his right hand.
Hussey's 84 - from just 83 balls - was his highest one-day score and his second fifty. He used his wrists well and leapt on to anything wide, clubbing 11 fours before Harmison cut through his defences with a slower ball to lay down a marker for the series ahead.
Strauss and Trescothick got England off to a fine start, helped by Gillespie's diet of wides and no-balls but McGrath, as usual, was on the button. He warned last month that he would publicly target Strauss and Vaughan - and target them he did. It worked with Strauss, who chopped on to his stumps in the ninth over for 16 (42 for 2). "That's the first one," said McGrath.
It may have been the first of his announced targets, but it was his second victim of the day - he also bowled Trescothick (16) after finally managing to bring one back in to the lefthander. This double strike slowed the progress of England, who had then to rebuild. Collingwood (14) worked the singles, but never seemed to have found his timing, before he inside-edged a Kasprowicz offcutter straight on to his stumps (82 for 3). Flintoff briefly sparked - he hit 19 - Jones never did - he hit 2 - and England were in trouble at 160 for 6. Brad Hogg was the pick of their bowlers, finishing with 3 for 42, and his slow left-arm wrist spin was killing England off. They needed 76 from the last ten overs and the run-rate was climbing.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man. And the man had a plan - all-out destruction. It has worked before and it worked, again. Australia, though, need a new strategy. Not for the first time this week they will be scratching their heads as they head in the direction of the drawing board.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo