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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007, 11:14 GMT
Australia win lifts England hopes
One-day series, Melbourne: Australia 291-5 bt New Zealand 290-7 by 5 wkts

Ricky Ponting
Ponting missed the defeat against England with a sore hip

Australia kept England's hopes of reaching the Commonwealth Bank Series final alive with a five-wicket victory against New Zealand in Melbourne.

Lou Vincent hit 90 in a 151-run stand with Peter Fulton to set up an imposing total of 290-7 for the Kiwis.

But Ricky Ponting returned in style for Australia with his 22nd ODI hundred and Brad Hodge saw them home with 10 balls to spare, finishing on 99.

England now play New Zealand on Tuesday to decide who qualifies for the final.

New Zealand decided to bat first after winning the toss and although they lost skipper Stephen Fleming for nine, Fulton and Vincent scored freely.

Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and part-time spinner Michael Clarke took two wickets each, with Glenn McGrath rested.

Brad Hodge
After a quiet start, Hodge raced to within one of a maiden century

Vincent and Fulton set the foundations for a big total and steadily scored five runs an over until Fulton was unlucky to be given leg before to Clarke's left-arm spin.

Vincent continued his good form since being drafted in as a replacement on the Australian tour, but fell short of what would have been his first century against Australia since his Test debut in the summer of 2001-02, when he was bowled by Shaun Tait.

Clarke, who also picked up the wicket of Ross Taylor (21) trying a cross-bat swipe, picked up 2-45 from nine overs.

Australia worked themselves back into the match when Vincent fell in the 37th over, but cameos by Scott Styris (34), Brendon McCullum (19), Jacob Oram (15) and James Franklin (13 not out) helped the Kiwis add 86 runs in the final 10 overs.

The required rate for the home side was 5.81 but when Adam Gilchrist's ungainly swipe at Franklin cannoned into the stumps off the inside edge with the final ball of the 11th over, it had risen over six.

606: DEBATE
Tom N

Franklin added the wicket of Matthew Hayden in his next over, the burly opener heaving one straight to deep mid-wicket and Clarke fell cheaply, toe-ending a cut at one from Daniel Vettori that would have been called wide.

But Ponting and Hodge shared 154 in 24 overs to put their side back into the ascendancy.

Hodge, who made nought and one in his two previous innings in the competition against England, made a watchful start, hitting his first boundary off his 46th delivery.

Ponting, by contrast, was immediately into his stride, getting off the mark with a lofted straight drive to the boundary and soon launching Vettori back over his head into the stands.

Having completed his second ODI fifty, Hodge drove Franklin through the covers for four and two balls later lofted him comfortably over mid-on for six.

When Ponting was superbly caught in the 47th over by Vincent diving forward at deep mid-off, 25 were still needed for victory.

The tension increased in the next over when MIke Hussey was sent back by Hodge and run out at the bowler's end.

When Cameron White arrived at the crease, the requirement was 12 from 14 balls but any anxiety was immediately lifted when Jacob Oram sent down a no-ball that Hodge sliced through the covers.

Hodge needed to hit a boundary to record a maiden century but had to contend with a pivotal role in the highest successful chase at his home ground.



SEE ALSO
Aussies top NZ in batting battle
28 Jan 07 |  England
Australia crush Kiwis in Hobart
14 Jan 07 |  Cricket
Commonwealth Bank Series 2006/07
21 Jan 07 |  England


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