At least England can beat one old enemy as tail end seals series win

Australia 212 England 214-9 (England win by one wicket)

At least there is one historical sporting rivalry in which England currently enjoys the upper hand. The nation may still have no answer to German supremacy on the football field but the days of grovelling at the feet of Australian cricketers appear for the moment to have passed.

There will be no concessions made by their opponents on that score until England have won an Ashes series on Australian soil but, after reclaiming the urn on home territory last summer and outplaying the old enemy in the final of the World Twenty20, England have now beaten the 50-over world champions at their own game.

Not that it came without an almighty scare. Andrew Strauss's team may have clinched the five-match NatWest series with two rubbers still to come, giving England their first win in a head-to-head one-day series over Australia since the Texaco Trophy of 1997, but after seemingly cruising at 185 for 3 with more than eight overs left to reach a target of 213 they wound up limping home by one wicket.

It was an experience Strauss found difficult to take after outplaying the Australians for nine-tenths of the contest, the pursuit underpinned by his own steadfast 87 off 121 balls.

"The last 10 overs were horrendous," the England captain said. "Needing 35 odd to win and three wickets down we thought we would cruise and it just goes to show that the job's never done.

"In the end it was a relief to get over the line which was a shame because we had done so much well over the course of the game.

"The football result was a downer for everyone and we would not like to have lost in those circumstances. We knew what was happening because we could hear the groans in the crowd and the very occasional cheer and it was pretty deflating.

"When momentum shifts so suddenly you start to think that every ball is a hand grenade and could get a wicket. If there is a lesson to be learnt it is that myself or Eoin Morgan should have been there at the end and it would not have been an issue.

"But it is a tremendous achievement to go 3-0 up against the Australians. The bowling unit has been outstanding in all three games, giving us modest totals to chase."

Winning should have been straightforward. Strauss had taken the bold decision to field first and, after some brilliant bowling, most notably from Graeme Swann (4 for 37), England's target looked well within their reach even on a dry, turning pitch, particularly with Australia deprived of their off-spinner Nathan Hauritz through injury.

But they put the 22,000 crowd through the mill, slipping from 185 for 3 to 203 for 9 in the space of 39 balls when only those of a fatalistic nature had envisaged defeat, for all that a recalled and initially menacingly quick Shaun Tait gave Australia renewed vigour.

Tait's third delivery fizzed down at 96.4mph and his fourth, a marginally slower yorker, uprooted Craig Kieswetter's middle stump.

Kevin Pieterson fell to a low return catch well taken by Tait but Strauss's partnerships of 76 with Paul Collingwood and 57 with Morgan left England in a position to pick off the runs while taking few risks.

But when Morgan pulled Steven Smith loosely to midwicket, the innings began to unravel. Strauss edged Ryan Harris to the wicketkeeper and Luke Wright, under no pressure, rather brainlessly tried to clear long-off and failed. Then Michael Yardy chased a ball outside off stump from Tait.

When the excellent Doug Bollinger then bowled Swann and Stuart Broad in quick succession, panic threatened. Happily, Tim Bresnan held his nerve. Two boundaries from the Yorkshireman, one off Harris, the other scythed through the vacant third man area off Jamie Hopes, saw England nervily home with five balls to spare.

Thank goodness, then, for England's slow bowlers who, led so impressively by Swann, with the solid backing of Yardy and Collingwood, had restricted Australia so effectively. Between them, the trio bowled 25 overs, conceded 103 runs and took six wickets.

Shane Watson and Tim Paine, who put on 75 before a wicket fell, gave Australia their best start of the series so far James Anderson's five overs with the new ball were immaculate but the Lancashire man's miserly 12-run concession was undermined by Bresnan going for 34 off four, 18 of which came in one over as Paine struck four boundaries.

Broad's first over cost nine runs and when, with the fielding restrictions lifted, Watson hit Wright for six and then four, Strauss had to rethink his plans.

And how well they worked. Yardy, the left-arm spinner, broke the partnership with his third delivery, bowled from wide of the crease but turning sharply enough to trap Paine, on the back foot, plumb in front.

Yardy would not take another wicket but his discipline rarely wavered and he gave away only four boundaries.

Man of the match Swann, meanwhile, confirmed his standing as an off- spinner of outstanding quality by combining mean lines with wickets in a superb spell that accounted for pretty much all of Australia's key weapons.

Ricky Ponting was stumped off a wide as Swann began his assault, wicketkeeper Kieswetter to be complimented on the speed of his hands as Swann turned the ball sharply past the Australian captain's groping advance. Bowling with subtle variations in flight, the Nottinghamshire man had Watson taken by Strauss at square leg for 61 as an attempted sweep lobbed up, and saw off Michael Clarke, whose drive looped into the hands of long-off. In between, a catch by Strauss at square leg accounted for Cameron White.

"To come back from nowhere was encouraging but you have to give credit for the way England have bowled," Ponting said.

England's hat-trick

England now have bragging rights over Australia in all three forms of cricket, T20, one-dayers and Tests. The closest they have previously been was in 2005, soon after the inception of T20 game, but the 50-over win eluded them.

The 2005 Ashes Summer

* T20: England beat Australia by 100 runs in their first ever T20 international.

* ODI: England narrowly lost a three-match series 2-1 and also tied a Natwest series final against Australia.

* Test: England won the 2005 Ashes series in dramatic style, sealing a 2-1 win with a draw at The Oval in the fifth Test.

Old Trafford scoreboard

England v Australia

England beat Australia by one wicket

England won toss

Australia

Runs 6s 4s Bls

S R Watson c Strauss b Swann 61 2 5 76

†T D Paine lbw b Yardy 44 0 9 48

*R T Ponting st Kieswetter b Swann  3  0 0 16

M J Clarke c sub b Swann 33  0 0 54

C L White c Strauss b Swann 12  0  2 23

M E K Hussey b Collingwood 21 0 3 21

S P D Smith lbw b Anderson 20  0 1  21

J R Hopes b Anderson 7  0  0  11

R J Harris c Strauss b Broad  1  0 0 2

D E Bollinger b Anderson  3  0 0 3

S W Tait not out 1 0 0  1

Extras (w 6)  6

Total (46 overs)  212

Fall: 1-75, 2-93, 3-130, 4-154, 5-169, 6-183, 7-202, 8-207, 9-211, 10-212.

Bowling: J M Anderson 8-1-22-3, T T Bresnan 6-0-43-0, S C J Broad 6-1-30-1, L J Wright 1-0-14-0, M H Yardy 10-0-45-1, G P Swann 10-1-37-4, P D Collingwood 5-0-21-1.

England

Runs 6s 4s Bls

*A J Strauss c Paine b Harris 87  0 8 121

†C Kieswetter b Tait  0  0 0 1

K P Pietersen c & b Tait  25  0 5 36

P D Collingwood b Bollinger 40  1 1 61

E J G Morgan c Ponting b Smith 27 1 2  35

M H Yardy c Paine b Tait 8  0  1 10

L J Wright c Hopes b Smith  0  0  0  3

T T Bresnan not out 14 0  2 15

G P Swann b Bollinger  1 0 0 10

S C J Broad b Bollinger 0 0  0 5

J M Anderson not out 0 0 0 0

Extras (b 1, lb 3, w 6, nb 2)  12

Total (9 wkts, 49.1 overs) 214

Fall: 1-1, 2-52, 3-128, 4-185, 5-189, 6-190, 7-197, 8-203, 9-203.

Bowling: S W Tait 10-1-28-3, D E Bollinger 10-3-20-3, R J Harris 10-0-59-1, J R Hopes 6.1-0-44-0, M J Clarke 4-0-25-0, S P D Smith 9-0-34-2.

Umpires: A S Dar & I J Gould.

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