Shane Watson leads Australia to victory

Australia 285-4 (49.1 ovs) beat England 294 (49.4 ovs) by six wickets
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The Independent Online

Shane Watson scored a career-best unbeaten 161 as Australia completed a record chase at the MCG to win the first one-day international against England by six wickets.

Kevin Pietersen had struck his first one-day half-century in more than two years to inspire England to 294 all out - their highest ever score against the world champions on Australian soil.

But it was not enough as Watson, who was dropped on 44 by Jonathan Trott, fittingly sealed the result with a six with five balls to spare.

Watson's innings was the fifth-highest one-day score by an Australian batsman and included 12 fours and four sixes from 150 balls.

Pietersen had looked as though he had marked his return to the team, after he was dropped for the summer series against Pakistan, with a match-winning 78.

Skipper Andrew Strauss also weighed in with 63 while fellow opener Steven Davies added 42 after he was the main beneficiary of a sloppy fielding display from Australia.

Brad Haddin was the chief culprit as he missed three stumpings, including a routine chance from Pietersen when he was on 37, before his 110-run opening stand with Watson earned him some redemption.

Watson was the main aggressor, scoring 38 of the first 50 runs before he was offered a life when Trott spilled a tough chance running back.

The openers' century stand arrived off 104 balls but Haddin (39) departed in the 20th over after when he slog-swept Graeme Swann straight to Ajmal Shahzad at deep square leg.

The wicketkeeper's dismissal preceeded a lull as England applied the brakes - most notably Swann (one for 42) - with new batsman Michael Clarke and Watson adding just 42 in the 10 overs up to the 30th.

With the rate climbing above seven runs an over the home fans showed their frustration as Clarke struggled for fluency.

The boos soon turned to cheers when Watson reached his fifth one-day century, from 110 balls, before back-to-back swipes over the leg-side rope off Michael Yardy eased home tensions.

Australia took the powerplay at the start of the 39th over but Clarke lasted just five balls more before miscuing Bresnan to Shahzad at mid-off for a 57-ball 36.

Steve Smith was elevated to raise the rate but he made just five and when Mike Hussey (21) looked like he might partner Watson to the end he spooned a catch to Chris Tremlett off Bresnan.

But Watson was unmovable and brought up his 150, from 142 balls, with another clubbed shot to the leg-side boundary off Tremlett.

Watson ended the match with a straight six off Shahzad, with Cameron White also unbeaten on 25.

England, who dropped Paul Collingwood after his poor run of form, laid the foundation for their record score with a 90-run opening stand, from 74 balls, between Strauss and Davies that was aided by an error-strewn Australia display.

Davies was afforded four reprieves inside the opening eight overs, including a missed run out before he faced a ball and the first of three missed stumpings by Haddin, before his luck eventually ran out on 42.

The wicketkeeper-batsman was bowled attempting a leg-side heave off David Hussey, whose part-time spin then induced a fine nick from Trott (six) through to Haddin.

England were fortunate not to lose a third quick wicket when Haddin botched a routine stumping with Strauss on 48.

That allowed the skipper to reach his 25th ODI half-century, from 51 balls, but just as he looked to anchor his side through the middle overs he spooned Lee to Clarke at mid-wicket for 63.

Ian Bell (23) and Eoin Morgan (eight) then also fell to catches in the inner ring, both off Steve Smith, to leave the onus on Pietersen at 186 for five in the 33rd over.

The right-hander, back in the team after being dropped for the summer series against Pakistan, had to ride his luck though as Haddin's calamitous day allowed him a life on 37 and he took full toll.

The 30-year-old immediately clubbed David Hussey for back-to-back straight sixes to bring up his first 50 in 17 ODI innings.

Another straight maximum off Xavier Doherty followed and with Pietersen increasing his tempo England looked on course to surpass 300.

Those hopes were dented when Pietersen was superbly run out by Mitchell Johnson from just the fourth ball of the batting powerplay.

After setting off for a quick single from the non-striker's end Pietersen was caught short as Johnson raced from his follow-through to kick the ball onto the stumps.

Some late hitting from Tim Bresnan (28) and the tail pushed England to their record score.