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Hundred-Watson heroics take Aussies home

Shane Watson produced one of the great one-day innings as Australia pulled off the biggest ODI chase this famous ground has seen.

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2011 01:06 IST

Shane Watson produced one of the great one-day innings as Australia pulled off the biggest ODI chase this famous ground has seen.

There was a 1970s theme running through the day, as the ground celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first ODI, which was played here, between these two sides. But by the end of the day this match had banished all the nostalgia from the memory. Chasing a challenging target, Watson scored more than half of his side's runs as Australia, justifying their billing as the best one-day side in the world, took a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series.

Watson finished the match off with a six off the first ball of the last over as Australia got home with six wickets and five balls to spare. He finished with 161 not out, the biggest of his five ODI centuries, and it included four sixes and a dozen fours in 150 deliveries. It was the highest ODI score against England since Viv Richards' famous and unbeaten 189 at Old Trafford in 1984.

England bowled and fielded well, until their nerves became frayed at the end of the match. But they should have set an even more difficult target. Australia, like England, got off to a sold start, with Watson and Brad Haddin putting on 110. Watson and the captain, Michael Clarke, then added 103 in 115 balls. Kevin Pietersen marked his return by scoring his first fifty in the T20 form since November 2008. England were just four deliveries into their powerplay when Johnson struck. England, who once again may have made their powerplay call a little late, scored only 26 runs.

Making the most of some good fortune, Andrew Strauss and Steven Davies had put on 90 for the first wicket in just 12 overs. Davies scored 42 from 35 balls without dispelling the doubts about his position at the top of the order: he was given four lives before he fell. Strauss was more authoritative in his 65-ball 63. With that platform, and with the outfield faster than it had been for the T20 game two days earlier, England's batsmen should have put this game beyond Australia's grasp.