Australia thrash England by 9 wickets to enter CT finals

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Twin centuries by skipper Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson left England beleaguered in their crucial Champions Trophy semi-final match.

Updated: October 03, 2009 17:04 IST
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Centurion, South Africa:

Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting hit unbeaten centuries as Australia overwhelmed England to reach the ICC Champions Trophy final at SuperSport Park on Friday.

Australia won by nine-wickets after England had earlier done well to recover to 257 all out after slumping to 101 for six wickets. But on a good batting wicket that never looked likely to be enough, especially with Ponting in sublime form and Watson in aggressive mood.

Tim Paine was the only Australian wicket to fall, caught by Steve Davies off the bowling of Graham Onions for four, but after that it was all Australia.

Watson hit 136 not out, including seven sixes off 132 balls, while captain Ponting finished with 111 not out off 115 as the two batsmen shared an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 252 from 40.2 overs. Watson also hit 10 fours, while Ponting's boundary tally was 12 fours and a six.

On Monday, Australia, who won the Champions Trophy in 2006, will play the winner of the other semifinal between Pakistan and New Zealand in Johannesburg on Saturday.

A 107-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Tim Bresnan and Luke Wright rescued England after a faltering start and allowed it to reach a respectable total.

The match was played on a fresh pitch that seemed to cause the top-order batsmen to struggle. But the Bresnan-Wright partnership, followed by lusty hitting by the lower-order gave England a respectable total.

England captain Andrew Strauss had no hesitation in batting first upon winning the toss, but his side was undone by a good early bowling performance by the Australia attack.

At 101 for six wickets in the 21st over, England were in trouble.

No. 7 batsman Wright then hit 48 off 68 balls, while No. 8 Bresnan contributed 80 off 76 balls, with 11 fours. Their collaboration lasted 19.4 overs, until Wright drove at Peter Siddle to be caught behind by Tim Paine, having hit two fours and two sixes. The catch was Paine's fifth of the innings.

Bresnan continued his assault on the bowling until the 47th over when he was bowled going for a big hit off Brett Lee.

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