Pietersen carried off as World fall apart

Australia 328-4 ICC World XI 273 Australia win by 55 runs
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The Independent Online

Fearsome batting by Australia's new opening pair set the tone for the match. Looking as comfortable together as pickles and cheese, the southpaws sent the score surging along on a pitch as hard as a sudoku puzzle set by a professor of mathematics. Both men used their brains as they sent the hosts galloping towards a formidable total

Undaunted, and led by their own left-handers, the Rest of the World replied in kind as Chris Gayle laid about himself like an aggrieved washerwoman while Kumar Sangakkara played another bold and intelligent innings. Gayle started like a typhoon but became a zephyr as an alarmed Australia captain sent his fieldsmen far and wide. The West Indian was not in the original side and took part as a supersub whose aggression forced Ricky Ponting to introduce a powerplay, spreading his field in the 11th over.

Gayle's assault caused apoplexy among an attack lacking the services of their talisman, Glenn McGrath, who was nursing "heavy legs". Without their three most experienced pacemen, the Australian attack looked thin, which cannot be said about several of the visiting players.

Had Australia fielded as badly as their opponents they might have been beaten. Instead, the World X1 suffered a middle-order collapse. Once Gayle had been held between the wicket off Shane Watson as the hosts packed the off-side field, the batting fell away.

Brian Lara wafted to cover, Jacques Kallis ran out the worthy Sangakarra and though Andrew Flintoff laid about himself for a time it was not with his customary intent.

An injury to Kevin Pietersen did not help the visitors' cause. He was carried from the field after straining a hamstring as he rushed in from the boundary. Pietersen returned to bat with a runner at sixth wicket down and a precautionary scan will be taken. Pollock said if the injury was revealed to be a tear then Pietersen would "definitely" miss Sunday's third and final match. Bless his cotton socks, he is expected to be fit to tour Pakistan.

None of the visiting batsmen could match the brilliance shown by Gilchrist after his captain had again won the toss. Doubtless surprised to read in this column that the time had come for him to put away his coloured clothes, and intent on making a fellow look like a complete goose, Gilchrist produced one of his freshest and most imaginative innings. He was in form from the second delivery, the first having whistled past his nose with the venom of a plate thrown by a wife displeased to hear that the boys were once again coming around for a game of poker.

During the course of his scintillating hand, the left-hander essayed several superb drives through cover and past the bowler. His back-foot play was also quick and decisive and he welcomed Shoaib back to the crease with a couple of brave and brilliant pulls.

Flintoff has left his menace at Trafalgar Square while Pollock was military medium. Once again, it was left to the spinners to try to stem the flow, a task that proved beyond them as Gilchrist greeted both with controlled lofts that landed in the laps of delighted spectators. Later he bent low to sweep Muttiah Muralitharan over midwicket and reached his hundred in 73 balls, the fastest ever scored by an Australian in a one-day international.

Simon Katich provided the calm assistance that his partner needed. Disconcerted by a few uncompromising lifters, he steadied himself and started to widen his range of shots in an manner so old-fashioned that he might have been wearing a trilby. He has been searching for a role in this team and may have found it.

Eventually the openers went the way of all flesh, whereupon Ponting and Damien Martyn ensured that the start was not wasted with an alert partnership that took Australia to a score that proved beyond the scope of an unimpressive outfit.

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