England beat Australia by three wickets

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/g/genericlandscape2.jpg' class='caption'> England beat Australia by three wickets as the world champions crashed to a second consecutive triangular series one-day defeat at Bristol on Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:52 IST
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England's Steve Harmison took a career-best five-wicket haul and Kevin Pietersen blasted 91 not out as Australia's world champions crashed to a second consecutive triangular series one-day defeat at Bristol on Sunday. The Australians, whose defeat against Bangladesh in their opening match on Saturday was one of the greatest upsets in cricket history, produced a much-improved display, but lost out by three wickets as Pietersen's extraordinary knock sealed the win with 15 balls to spare. The South-African born Pietersen hammered his runs off just 65 balls, including eight fours and four sixes. His last 52 runs came off 23 deliveries. Pietersen hit 17 off the 46th over from Jason Gillespie to make certain of victory. England and Australia met at the County Ground in Bristol on Sunday for the third match in the triangular one-day series. Australia started well, reaching 57 for no wicket in 11 overs as both openers began positively with sixes off the England opening attack. Lethal spell But England captain Michael Vaughan brought on strike bowler Steve Harmison as first change to counter Australia's fast start. The Durham bowler rocked the tourists with three wickets in four balls. He had Adam Gilchrist caught behind by Geraint Jones for 26. Then the Australian captain Ricky Ponting went for a golden duck. Harmison was on a hat-trick, but Damien Martyn negotiated the next ball before lashing out at the one following that and was caught by Kevin Pietersen for a duck. Harmison then saw Paul Collingwood complete an extraordinary catch at point to get rid of Matthew Hayden and make it 63 for four. That gave Harmison four wickets for two runs in 15 balls. Hayden's ball, dragged short, was nothing special and cut hard and high by the batsman, but Collingwood took off to his left and reached across to take the half-chance with his right hand. It was a catch worthy of Jonty Rhodes, the former South Africa player, at his best. Century partnership The Australian innings was held together by a fifth wicket partnership of 105 in 20 overs between Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke. Hussey top-scored for Australia with 84 off 83 balls. He hit 11 fours before he became Harmison's fifth victim, the first time he has managed to take five wickets in one-day internationals. He ended with five for 33. Harmison's efforts restricted Australia to 252 for nine after they opted to bat. Glenn McGrath led the fightback, taking two early wickets as Australia strangled the England top-order. The veteran bowler removed Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss, both for 16. It became 82 for three when Paul Collingwood was deceived by a delivery of extra bounce and he deflected the ball on to his wicket for 14. Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff steered the score past the century mark in the 23rd over. The England all-rounder Flintoff, and later wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, holed out in the deep to an ill-conceived shot which increased the pressure, and the scoring rate, on England. Vaughan batted with determination but little urgency and when he was trapped leg before wicket by left-arm leg-spinner Brad Hogg, he had scored 57 off 92 balls and left his side needing more than seven an over to claim an increasingly unlikely victory. Breathtaking shots His patience was rewarded as Kevin Pietersen then put in a breathtaking man-of-the-match innings. England needed seven an over off the last 15 to win and 76 runs off the last 10 and Pietersen, in his first one-day innings against the world champions, rose to the occasion. He brought up his 50 with a leg-side six off wrist spinner Brad Hogg. Pietersen, who came into the game with an average of 139.5 after hitting three one-day centuries against South Africa, blasted Gillespie for a straight four, then hammered him over long on next ball as 17 runs came off the over to make sure of victory. The South-African born batsman hammered an unbeaten 91 runs off only 65 balls. An innings which included eight fours and four sixes. His last 52 runs came off 23 deliveries. The winning run was hit by Jon Lewis, playing on his home County Ground, as England won by three wickets with 15 balls to spare. It was Australia's fourth defeat in a week in all forms of cricket. (AP)

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