Watson achieves World domination

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The Independent Online

Three lost tosses and several injuries have handicapped the World side. Had Sachin Tendulkar and Herschelle Gibbs been fit and both Englishman able to take a full part, the results might have been closer. Instead, respected players, especially the South Africans and Brian Lara, fell far below expectations.

From the English perspective, the bad news was that Andrew Flintoff had to leave the field after incurring a blow to his right wrist while attempting to intercept a fierce straight drive from Ricky Ponting. He took his usual place in the batting order but was limited to improvised carves over cover and did not last long. Happily, X-rays indicated that no bone had been broken. Kevin Pietersen was already hors de combat with a hamstring injury.

Of course, it has not helped the World's cause that Australia have played exceptionally well. Defeat in England made the hosts hungry and the visitors complacent. Australia is not a country to visit with a compromised will. Anyone expecting an easy ride had better stay at home.

In the final contest played in the artificial conditions provided at Telstra Stadium, the home team's lesser lights carried the day. By taking their side from 154 for 5 to 293 for 5, Shane Watson, unbeaten on 66, and Michael Hussey, 75 not out, confirmed they have the qualities to meet any challenge cricket can offer.

But Australia's success was a team effort. After two strong performances, the senior batsmen failed this time, Gilchrist and Ponting contributing breezy thirties. Among the visiting trundlers, Pollock was medium-paced, Ntini overpitched, Kallis and Flintoff were erratic and only the spinners kept the batsmen in check.

Defending another large total, the Australians bowled and fielded superbly. Every wicket was celebrated and every victory sent an eager team into raptures. As usual, Brett Lee was outstanding with the white ball. He was fast and furious as he upset the top order. Watson bowled straight and hard, picking up four wickets for his second man of the match award. The rest were able to ride on their backs.