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Martyn takes Australia to victory

By Deepti Patwardhan in Jaipur
Last updated on: October 21, 2006 22:25 IST
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An exquisite innings by Damien Martyn and his 118-run stand with Michael Hussey helped Australia to a six-wicket win over England in the Group A Champions Trophy match at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur on Saturday.

Australia cruised to 170 for four after dismissing England for 169 runs to win their first points in the competition.

Apart from being a battle for survival for both sides in the series, it was the first time the two teams were meeting after the epic Ashes series last August and England just could not match Australia's intensity on the field.

Man of the Match Martyn led Australia's recovery with a superb 78 after the team had lost three early wickets. Hussey, unbeaten on 32, provided the ideal foil to Martyn's flair as Australia romped to the target in 36.5 overs.

Similarly, after showing early promise, the English batting collapsed without a whimper. Openers Ian bell (43) and Andrew Strauss (56) gave the team a solid start of 83 runs after being put into bat by Australia but the side was bowled out in 45 overs.

Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson used the old ball intelligently to grab three wickets each and run through the English top order.

England innings:

England's opening batsmen, who had played some loose shots as the team was dismissed for 125 by India in their opening match, looked more organized. They ran the risk of playing ugly to ensure Australia did not make early inroads.

Ian Bell began the boundary count by flicking Nathan Bracken to the mid-wicket fence in the fourth over. The right-handed batsman, who has done well in Indian conditions, played a fluent innings to give England a solid start along with Andrew Strauss.

He was dropped by Damien Martyn on 23 at mid-off; the ball popping out of Martyn's hands after Bell had mis-hit the slower delivery from Glenn McGrath.

McGrath, earlier, had an unusual start as he was spanked for two fours by Strauss off his first two balls. The batsman was then checked for any airy shots square of the wicket by a short mid-wicket and point.

But when Australia's main-line bowlers failed to provide the breakthrough, their second string came out in full force against the traditional rivals.

Shane Watson, who has previously taken the new ball, was introduced in the 19th over; the all-rounder struck with his second ball. He hit the deck hard, got good bounce and bowled onto the stumps to expose England's batting frailties.

The paceman had Bell caught on 43 at cover to Mike Hussey while driving on the rise.

The first wicket apparently was enough to put England on the slide. Kevin Pietersen, promoted up the order, went for another expansive drive, played away from the body and got an edge off Mitchell Johnson to the wicketkeeper.

On the eve of the match, Australia captain Ricky Ponting had said the team was looking to improve its record in the Champions Trophy. Having lost their first match against the West Indies on Wednesday, Australia looked keener to set the record straight against England. They were energized in the field, constantly back-slapping and chatting with each other.

After a brief partnership of 26 runs with Strauss, Flintoff was caught at mid-wicket while trying to pull Watson. The English captain, who has already ruled out bowling during the tournament as he is recovering from an injury, failed to make an impact with the bat either.

England's capitulation from there on was meek. They lost eight wickets for 59 runs and were bowled out for 169.

Strauss, after compiling a half-century, was caught by Gilchrist trying to cut Andrew Symonds. Michael Yardy, with his open stance, looked edgy right from the beginning and was caught behind of Watson trying to glance the ball to fine-leg.

Bursting on the cricket scene with a four-wicket haul against India in Kuala Lumpur, Johnson bowled well with the old ball, getting it to jump and swing. He was rewarded with three wickets for 40 runs in his 10 overs.

McGrath toyed with the English tail, beating the bat with embarrassing ease. He chipped in with two wickets in the end, having wicket-keeper Chris Read caught behind for no score and cleaning up James Anderson to bring an end to another batting disaster from England.

Paul Collingwood held his end up through the madness to remain unbeaten for 22.

Australia innings

World champions Australia had romped to 30 from 3.5 overs when one of the four flood lights went off; leading to a 10-minute hold-up and a top-order stutter.

Adam Gilchrist, batting on 10, was bowled by Sajid Mahmood on the very first ball after resumption. The opener missed the line of the delivery to see his off-stump disturbed. Captain Ricky Ponting, who has scored 84 runs in the last five innings, and Shane Watson followed him quickly in the pavilion.

Strauss took a diving catch at first slip as Ponting edged the ball off Mahmood. Watson, meanwhile, played a poor shot to Anderson, missing the length while attempting a pull and the ball clipped the top of the stumps.

The three wickets fired up English bowlers; they hit the right length and caused a few problems for the batsmen.

But England's enthusiasm was not enough to curb Damien Martyn's class.

In a game that had been so far been a collection of bad shots, Martyn provided the soothing silken touch. The 35-year-old from Darwin was never out of position while going for a particular shot and seemed to have all the time in the world to decide which corner of the park the ball would be dispatched to.

Martyn pulled Stephen Harmison for a four as soon as the tall paceman was brought into the attack. He hit Harmison for five boundaries, plundering 22 runs off nine balls from the bowler in the first spell, making a strong statement ahead of next month's Ashes.

Mike Hussey has cemented himself as one of the most adaptable ODI batsmen in just one year and even on Saturday the left-hander played his part to perfection. With Martyn timing the ball to perfection, all Hussey had to do was find the gaps for singles and put his partner into strike. He scored his first boundary off the 67th ball faced.

In the space of five overs (after Watson's dismissal), Martyn and Hussey had changed the course of the game. And England bowling line-up didn't have enough resources once Australia launched the counter-attack.

The right-hander raced to his half-century in 35 balls with nine boundaries.

Flintoff was bold enough to keep a slip and tighten the in-field, spinners Michael Yardy and James Dalrymple checked the scoring rate but the target was not enough to put Australia under pressure.

Hussey and Martyn shared a stand of 118 runs for the fourth wicket, with the latter contributing 78 runs and 12 fours.

With 18 runs to victory, Harmison had his revenge over Martyn. Coming off a drinks break, the batsman was caught by wicketkeeper Chris Read while trying to run the ball down to the third man region.

A four through covers by Hussey off Harmison clinched the issue for Australia. The boundary was not counted since it came off a no-ball when Australia's score was 169 for four, with Hussey unbeaten on 32.

After losing the semi-final to England in the last edition of the Champions Trophy and a tied final in the Natwest series last year, Australia showed that they had emerged as a far better one-day side in the past one year.


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Deepti Patwardhan in Jaipur