England strike first blow against Australia

(Reuters) – England struck the first blow at the start of an eight-month campaign against Australia involving 26 matches in all three formats of the game by winning their Champions Trophy Group A game in Birmingham yesterday. The hosts defeated their oldest enemy in their opening match of the eight-nation 50-overs competition by 48 runs in advance of back-to-back Ashes series and four limited-overs series.

James Anderson became England’s leading one-day wicket taker when he dismissed Mitchell Marsh for five. It was his 235th wicket, putting him one ahead of Darren Gough.

“He’s great bowler,” England captain Alastair Cook told Sky Sports. “He just keeps getting better and better.”

Australia, set 270 to win on a good batting pitch, gave a lacklustre performance and fell steadily behind the required run rate after taking the field without their injured captain Michael Clarke.

Shane Watson, their best one-day batsman, survived a hard chance to Cook off Stuart Broad but still made only 24 from 40 deliveries. His opening partner David Warner was out for nine and Phil Hughes was lbw to Joe Root for 30 trying to force the pace with an ill-judged pull shot.Stand-in captain George Bailey was the top-scorer with 55 and his dismissal in the 40th over spelt the end of Australia’s victory hopes.

England rallied after a middle-order collapse to reach 269 for six on a slow pitch with Ravi Bopara (46 not out) and Tim Bresnan (19 not out) adding 56 from 41 balls in an eighth-wicket partnership.

They reached 168 for the loss of only Cook (30) but wickets quickly tumbled.

Man-of-the-match Ian Bell top-scored with 91 off 115 balls and Jonathan Trott made 43 but none of the other specialist batsmen made any impact.
Root went for 12, Eoin Morgan was bowled for eight and Jos Buttler, England’s most dangerous one-day batsman, made only one.

“It was a little bit frustrating,” Cook said. “But I always thought 270 was going to be enough.”

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