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   Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 18:39 GMT
Aussies prove too strong
Matthew Hayden was in magnificent form for Australia
Hayden's sweep shot served him well
VB Series, Sydney: Australia 252-3 (45 overs) beat England 251-8 (50 overs) by seven wickets

Matthew Hayden was England's tormentor again as Australia opened up the VB Series with a comfortable win under the SCG lights.

Nick Knight's unbeaten 111 enabled England to post a competitive total, but the result was never in doubt after Hayden and Adam Gilchrist launched the reply with a stand of 101 in 14 overs.

Hayden, who made a hundred in both innings of the first Ashes Test, had another century there for the taking when he holed out at mid-off on 98.

But Damien Martyn (46) and Darren Lehmann (27) completed the formalities as Australia cruised home with five overs to spare.

Nick Knight acknowledges appaluse from the crowd
Knight reaches three figures

The result was predictable, but the batting of Knight and Marcus Trescothick, and Ian Blackwell's tidy bowling which brought figures of two for 38 offered encouragement for England.

And there was no sign of despondency as the game slipped away, with boundary fielder Ronnie Irani leading a section of the crowd in some mass stretching exercises, bringing a smile to the face of skipper Nasser Hussain.

England made an uncertain start after winning the toss with Trescothick displaying the hallmarks of a player with a run of low scores behind him.

Knight's batting was frenetic in the opening overs but he carved Jason Gillespie over point for six before settling into the anchor role as Trescothick picked up the tempo.

Trescothick lofted Shane Watson for six and also hit eight fours in his 60 off 57 balls, before edging a slip catch off Brett Lee to end a stand of 101.

Hussain contributed 52, including a six and four in one over, but he skied a catch to Gillespie off Lehmann, who followed with the wickets of Blackwell and Owais Shah.

Knight was struck down by cramp but Shah returned as runner to enable him to complete his fifth one-day century off 127 balls.

Flying start

Irani swaps his England cap for more unorthodox headgear
Ronnie Irani kept the crowd amused

England were well aware of the danger of Australian openers Hayden and Adam Gilchrist and their fears were well justified as the boundaries came thick and fast.

Gilchrist hit seven fours in his 53 off 50 balls but Hayden was even more impressive, especially when he stepped out to crash Andy Caddick into the crowd in the sixth over.

Hussain turned to Blackwell and debutant Garth Batty to try and stem the tide and the former did the trick by having Ricky Ponting caught for 18, before tempting Hayden into one big shot too many.

Australia were 190 for three when he departed, but Martyn and Lehmann added the finishing touches with some comfort - Martyn ending the game with a stylsih four off James Kirtley.

England: N Hussain (capt), NV Knight, ME Trescothick, RC Irani, OA Shah, ID Blackwell, C White, AJ Stewart (wkt), GJ Batty, AR Caddick, RJ Kirtley.

Australia: RT Ponting (capt), ML Hayden, AC Gilchrist (wkt), DR Martyn, MG Bevan, DS Lehmann, SR Watson, SK Warne, B Lee, JN Gillespie, GD McGrath.

 England captain Nasser Hussain
"All our top players upped their game"
 BBC Five Live's Jonathan Agnew
"England's prospects are bleak indeed"
Which team will win the VB Series?



Sri Lanka

17334 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
England take on Australia and Sri Lanka


Group matches

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