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Another comprehensive victory for Australia

Ponting scored 82 from 96 balls as Australia reached 246 for two, surpassing England's 242 with more than four overs to spare.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2007 19:49 IST

Ricky Ponting guided Australia to an eight-wicket win in the opening tri-series limited-overs international against England on Friday, extending his side's unbeaten stretch against the tourists in all versions of cricket this summer.

Ponting scored 82 from 96 balls as Australia reached 246 for two, surpassing England's 242 for eight with more than four overs to spare.

He shared a 133-run partnership with Michael Clarke, who was unbeaten on 57 when Australia passed the target.

Kevin Pietersen top scored for England with 82 from 91 balls but was ruled out for the remainder of the series after being struck in the ribs advancing down the pitch at a Glenn McGrath short ball. It was a major blow for England's series and World Cup ambitions.

The Australian chase started quickly, with Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden putting on 101 for the first wicket before Gilchrist was out for 60 from 61 balls, including five boundaries and a six.

Hayden played the anchor role and was out for 28 with the total at 118.

"We played well again tonight. I thought our bowlers did a good restricting job. We took wickets along the way - 240, on this wicket, was probably 30 runs shy," Ponting said.

Australia is honing a squad to win a third a consecutive World Cup.

"We're not far away. This group of players will form the nucleus of our World Cup squad.

Pietersen was hit in the ribs by a rising short ball after a big swing-and-a-miss on 73 and needed treatment on the field. He was later taken to hospital for tests.

England management revealed he would be sent home after breaking a rib on his right side. A replacement has not been named.

Skipper Michael Vaughan, who missed the 5-0 Ashes loss to Australia, won the toss and elected to bat, the move backfiring early when Andrew Strauss (12) was caught at slip by Hayden and Vaughan (26) was out in the same mode with the total at 47.

Ian Bell (15) was out with the total at 73 before Pietersen and Paul Collingwood combined in a 95-run fourth wicket stand.

Collingwood (43) had a reprieve when Cameron White misjudged an attempted catch in the outfield before veteran paceman McGrath broke the partnership.

He deceived Collingwood with a slower ball and had him caught by Mitchell Johnson.

Pietersen, who smacked White for sixes on consecutive balls in the 36th over, was more subdued after being hit by McGrath and eventually was out when he hit Stuart Clark to Andrew Symonds on the long-on boundary.