Birthday boy Martyn makes Australia's day
by AFP

Ground:Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Scorecard:Australia v England
Player:MEK Hussey, DR Martyn, NW Bracken, A Symonds, GD McGrath, MG Johnson, SR Watson, PD Collingwood, IR Bell, AJ Strauss
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2006/07

DateLine: 21st October 2006


Damien Martyn celebrated his birthday with a fluent half-century under pressure to script Australia's crucial six-wicket win over England in the Champions Trophy here on Saturday.


Martyn, who turned 35 on Saturday, scored a solid 78 as Australia overcame a triple blow to surpass England's modest total of 169 with 13.1 overs to spare to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.


Australia were reeling at 34-3 before Martyn restored their fortunes with a quality knock to ensure the superb efforts of pacemen Shane Watson (3-16) and Mitchell Johnson (3-40) did not go waste.


England are virtually out of contention after suffering their second successive defeat in the four-team Group A. They will take on the West Indies in their last league game at Ahmedabad on October 28.


India and the West Indies have one win apiece from one match, and Australia one victory from two games. The top two sides advance to the semi-finals.


"Watson and Johnson were outstanding in the middle overs and then Damien played a superb knock. In the end, it was a resounding victory for us," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting.


Australia lost Adam Gilchrist (10), Ponting (one) and Watson (21) in the space of four runs when the game resumed after a 10-minute break due to power failure.


Sajid Mahmood grabbed two wickets and fellow-paceman James Anderson one before their team ran into Martyn, who drove beautifully on both sides of the wicket to end England's early celebrations in the day-night match.


Martyn raced his 36th half-century off 35 balls with nine fours, including three in one over off key fast bowler Steve Harmison who conceded 45 runs in 4.5 overs.


The Australian middle-order batsman added 118 for the fourth wicket with Michael Hussey, who played a supporting role with an unbeaten 32.


Martyn's birthday coincided with Diwali, the country's biggest Hindu festival marked by fireworks.


There were fireworks on the field too as the Australian executed breathtaking shots during his 91-ball knock.


Australia were indebted to Watson and left-arm fast bowler Johnson for restricting England in their big clash before the Ashes, beginning at Brisbane next month.


England looked like setting a stiff target after being put in to bat when Andrew Strauss (56) and Ian Bell (43) added 83 for the opening wicket on a slow track.


Ten wickets then fell for 86 runs, with Watson and Johnson each taking three and veteran fast bowler Glenn McGrath two. McGrath conceded 27 runs in his opening four overs, but came back strongly to finish with 2-36 off nine overs.


"We came here wanting to perform and play for pride. Obviously, we have to learn from today's game and improve," said England captain Andrew Flintoff.


"We knew it was going to be tough. We got a good start and early wickets and hoped to pull it off, but in the end it was not enough."


Wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist brilliantly supported his pacemen with five catches, including his 350th in one-day internationals.


Paul Collingwood (22 not out) and last-man Anderson (15) were the other batsmen to reach double-figures in a dismal England batting performance.


Watson provided the breakthrough with his second ball when he had make-shift opener Bell caught by Hussey in the cover. His dismissal was the beginning of the end of England's innings.


England suffered a twin setback when free-stroking batsmen Kevin Pietersen (one) and Flintoff (four) fell in quick succession to leave their team wobbling at 110-3.


Australia kept striking at regular intervals to eventually neutralise England's early advantage given by Strauss and Bell.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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