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England seal one-day title
Julian Linden | February 11, 2007 19:15 IST
England defeated Australia by 34 runs in a rain-interrupted match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday to win the tri-series one-day international tournament and end their disappointing tour on an unexpected high.
England followed up their thrilling four-wicket win in Melbourne on Friday with a second victory to wrap up the best-of-three finals series with a game to spare and salvage some pride after losing the Ashes 5-0.
"It's been a very tough tour but this is a great way to finish it," England captain Andrew Flintoff told a news conference.
"Obviously it doesn't make up for the disappointment of the Ashes but right now, the lads are glad to be going home with some silverware and looking ahead to the World Cup."
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting was unable to hide his disappointment after the home side had dominated England all season.
"This was a very poor way to finish what has been a tremendous summer for the team and for Australian cricket," Ponting said. "I really don't have any explanation for the way we've played in the last couple of games."
Paul Collingwood continued his golden run of form with the bat with a defiant 70 to help England reach 246 for eight from their 50 overs and to win the player-of-the-finals award.
Australia were set a revised total of 211 off 33 overs to win after the match was interrupted by four rain delays but could only muster 152-8 when the foul weather stopped play a fifth time and England were awarded victory by 34 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Liam Plunkett produced a superb spell of seam bowling to capture the wickets of Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Clarke as the Australian top-order collapsed on the damp pitch.
Australia had bowled and fielded brilliantly to restrict England to less than 250 but were never in the hunt to win after the foul weather forced them to chase quick runs.
"We can't blame the weather or the conditions," Ponting said. "That's the way the game goes. We had to find a way to win and we didn't but full credit to England."
England's innings was also disrupted by two showers but with no reduction in overs, Collingwood was able to patiently build his team's total.
The Durham batsman followed up his back-to-back hundreds in his past two knocks with a watchful 70 off 90 balls after England had slumped to 112-4 in the 26th over.
He shared a 97-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Flintoff, who made 42 from 50 balls, after opener Mal Loye (45) and Ian Bell (26) had both been run out by direct hits.
England had seemed poised for an even bigger total after reaching 209-4 in the 43rd over but added just 37 for the loss of four wickets from the last seven overs to leave Australia chasing a relatively modest total.
The Australians made a flying start when Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden smashed 25 off the first three overs but the wheels fell off when they lost Hayden and Ponting cheaply before the third rain delay.
When play resumed Australia were set 227 off 41 overs to win but their chances were dashed when Plunkett dismissed Gilchrist and Clarke in the first over after the resumption.
A further rain delay saw the target reduced to 211 off 33 overs which proved beyond the Australians against some inspired England bowling despite a fighting 49 from Brad Hodge.
England were given no hope of even making the finals after losing five of their first six matches in the preliminary stages before sneaking in after winning their last two games against Australia and New Zealand.
They twice fought back from seemingly hopeless positions to win the first final before wrapping up the second in more emphatic fashion.
"We knew we had it in us. It might have taken a long time to come out but I'm just glad it did," Flintoff said.