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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 17:05 GMT

England endure Bevan masterclass
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

They call him 'the Finisher' and, once again, Michael Bevan gave a classic example of how to win a cricket match against all odds.

Not only that, but he saw Australia to their unlikely victory over England having hardly played a shot in anger.

Michael Bevan celebrates victory
Bevan showed a cool head under the severest pressure

Bevan's masterful innings, which guided his team to 208-8 after they had been reduced to 48-4, and then 114-7, devastated England's fielders.

It had been a roller-coaster of a game anyway, but they truly believed they had it sewn up when Brett Lee was run out by Craig White.

Australia still needed 73 more to win with only two wickets in hand, yet Andy Bichel, who had taken 7 for 20 with the ball, completed his memorable day by supporting Bevan until, with two balls remaining, the winning runs were hit.

Nasser Hussain is sure to be heavily criticised for choosing to give 20-year-old Jimmy Anderson the penultimate over, rather than the much more experienced Andy Caddick and, I must say, it looked a strange decision to me.

Caddick had taken the first four wickets to fall and, as the senior bowler, should be the man to cope with the pressure of these situations.

Anderson, meanwhile, had looked below par throughout, yet Hussain threw him the ball with 14 needed off the last two overs.

Alec Stewart beats Lee's despairing lunge
England appeared to have it in the bag when Lee was run out

Bichel immediately clobbered him for a huge six over square leg, and then drilled him through mid on for four as 12 came from the over, and one can only hope that Anderson's fragile confidence has not been permanently shattered by the experience.

The result does nothing to alter England's position as far as qualifying for the Super Sixes is concerned - in fact, it could be argued that by losing the game and keeping Pakistan in the hunt, it might have helped their position.

It all comes down to the final match in the group when Zimbabwe play Pakistan in Bulawayo.

A win for Zimbabwe knocks out both Pakistan and England, but if Pakistan beat Zimbabwe, they must do so by an enormous margin if their run rate is to leapfrog them over England.

Clearly Pakistan will prefer to bat first, and all eyes will be on Queen's Sports Club on Tuesday.





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