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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 11:27 GMT
Collingwood ton seals England win
Commonwealth Bank Series, Melbourne:
England 253-6 beat Australia 252 by four wickets

By Oliver Brett

Paul Collingwood
Collingwood had a superb match

Paul Collingwood was England's hero as they beat Australia by four wickets in a Melbourne thriller to go 1-0 up in the best-of-three tri-series final.

The all-rounder produced a stunning catch and two run-outs in Australia's innings and then hit 120 not out, his second century in consecutive games.

Australia collapsed from 170-1 after 30 overs to be all out for just 252.

But England faltered to 15-3 before Collingwood and Ian Bell (65) inspired the recovery by putting on 133.

Andrew Flintoff, who bowled beautifully to take 3-41, contributed 35 more runs to the cause, and three balls were remaining when Collingwood drove Nathan Bracken through the on-side for the winning hit.

Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting put on 138 off 147 balls for the Aussies and a score well in excess of 300 appeared on the cards.

606: DEBATE
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But England's spinners combined to lower the run rate while taking wickets, and Flintoff came back to polish off the lower order with nine balls remaining.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, despite having successfully chased targets batting under lights in two previous matches this series at the MCG.

Hayden struck four boundaries inside the first three overs as Australia threatened to run Liam Plunkett and Sajid Mahmood ragged.

But Adam Gilchrist was deceived by one of a number of slower balls from Mahmood, driving high to Flintoff at mid-off.

Matthew Hayden
Hayden was Australia's top-scorer with 82, made off 102 balls

The wicket brought in Ponting, who was almost caught at point off his first ball faced but got into his stride with two boundaries off Plunkett.

Finally, Ponting attempted a square cut off Monty Panesar, but was a fraction early on the shot and Collingwood leapt to his left at short extra cover to take a tremendous catch.

The run rate slumped, and three overs later, Hayden fell to Jamie Dalrymple, driving high to Mahmood at long-on.

Brad Hodge, who was lucky to survive a run-out appeal on nought, was unlucky soon afterwards when the error-prone umpire Darryl Harper ruled him lbw to Panesar.

Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke put on 33 before falling to consecutive deliveries in the 43rd over.

Clarke (33), attempting a quick single, was beaten by Collingwood's throw and Hussey nicked Flintoff to Paul Nixon.

Things declined rapidly for the Aussies. The 47th over saw two more wickets fall, bringing last man Glenn McGrath to the crease.

And an inswinging yorker from Flintoff was far too good for the man celebrating his 37th birthday.

If England began their chase with cause for optimism, the momentum swung back Australia's way immediately.

Mal Loye was adjudged lbw to Brett Lee and the same bowler had Ed Joyce caught at mid-on before Bracken angled a ball into Andrew Strauss's pads to leave England in a desperate position.

It took Bell and Collingwood plenty of time to inject a sense of purpose into the England innings, mindful of the need to lose no further wickets.

And Bell had one major reprieve when McGrath dropped him on 18 at fine leg.

Monty Panesar
Monty Panesar ignited England's revival at the MCG by taking 2-44

But in the final powerplay they played some valuable lofted drives for boundaries, one of Collingwood's clearing the rope for six as McGrath was put to the sword.

England were unexpectedly on top when the two right-handers took the score to 147 - the tourists needing 105 from 103 balls.

But a perfect yorker from Lee crashed into the base of Bell's stumps to end his innings on 65.

Flintoff began uncertainly, but was given confidence when a clean hit off Brad Hogg soared over wide mid-on for six.

With the wicket getting slower and slower, boundaries were thin on the ground, but England ran the ones and twos well to leave 31 wanted off the last 29 balls.

At that precise point, Flintoff edged Shane Watson - playing his first international game of the season - behind.

The run-out of Dalrymple left the equation a harder 25 off 18 balls.

But Ponting kept Watson on when he could have turned to Bracken and Collingwood hit two vital boundaries with the over costing 12.

Nixon produced the final supporting role with Collingwood and there were punches of jubilation from the England dressing-room.



SEE ALSO
Australia v England photos
09 Feb 07 |  Cricket
England hero delighted with form
09 Feb 07 |  England
Ponting laments batting collapse
09 Feb 07 |  England


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