England clinch dramatic tie
England clinched a dramatic last-ball tie against Ashes rivals Australia in the final of The NatWest Series at Lord's thanks largely to a defiant 116-run sixth-wicket partnership between Geraint Jones and Paul Collingwood.
Chasing a victory total of 197, England were in all sorts of trouble early on as Aussie pace duo Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee claimed the wickets of England's top five batsmen for just 33 runs.
However, Collingwood (53) and Jones (71) steadied the ship and helped steer England on the road to a possible win.
Towards the end, the match swung this way and that as key wickets began to tumble but, with 10 required off the last McGrath over to win, Darren Gough and Ashley Giles stood firm and Giles ran two off the final ball to ensure neither side ended the day defeated.
On a swinging pitch, Marcus Trescothick was the first England wicket to fall after advancing to six in a first-wicket partnership with Andrew Strauss worth 11.
The Somerset star attempted to cut McGrath down to third man but instead picked out Ricky Ponting at second slip.
Strauss (two) then departed moments later when Lee clean bowled the Middlesex left-hander to leave the score 13 for two.
It needed someone to stem the flow of wickets and dig in, but Michael Vaughan was sent back to the pavilion without scoring when he looked to pull McGrath and dragged the ball down onto his own stumps with the score on 19.
Things went from bad to worse when England found themselves four down with no further runs added to the total.
This time Lee found the edge of Kevin Pietersen's (six) bat and the ball sailed into the grateful gloves of wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist.
Andrew Flintoff briefly suggested he might lead a recovery with two consecutive fours, while at the other end Collingwood earned a reprieve when he was dropped by a diving Ponting at slip off McGrath.
Flintoff (eight), though, was not so lucky and the very next delivery he edged McGrath behind where Matthew Hayden held on at first slip to leave England struggling on 33 for five.
With only Collingwood and Jones left as the recognised batsmen many expected Australia to tighten their stranglehold and clinch the remaining few wickets, but they reckoned without a valiant late resurgence.
The duo played with calm assurity and took the total beyond the 100 mark with a superb half-century stand.
Jones brought up his 50, his third in one-day internationals, to the loud applause of the crowd before the pair claimed the highest sixth-wicket partnership for England against Australia.
They took the stand past 100 and Collingwood brought up his eighth ODI half-century with a four off Mike Hussey.
However, with the score on 149 the Durham all-rounder was run out on 53 by Andrew Symonds after confusion over whether to run a single.
Two more wickets then fell in quick succession as Jones was given out lbw attempting to sweep a full delivery from Brad Hogg and then Simon Jones was clean bowled by a Hussey yorker leaving the score on 162 for eight.
It was then that the fireworks started as Gough and Giles threw the kitchen sink at everything bowled down at them.
When Gough was run out for 12 off the penultimate ball of the match, Giles was left with the daunting task of needing two to tie or three to win off the final delivery.
England ran two to spark wild and relieved celebrations in the Lord's crowd.
Earier, Stephen Harmison and Flintoff shared six wickets between them to help England dismiss the Australians for only 196.
Harmison took 3-27 and Flintoff 3-23 as the Aussies were bowled out for the first time in the tournament, despite a rapid 50-run stand for the first wicket between Gilchrist and Hayden.
Wicket-keeper Jones claimed five catches behind the stumps for the second time in the tournament, and it needed an unbeaten 62 by Hussey to add some much-needed runs for the tourists before the last wicket fell in the penultimate over.
The day began well for the hosts when captain Vaughan won the toss and chose to field first in overcast conditions which were expected to favour the bowlers.
Australia raced out of the blocks though and Gilchrist set the tone for the early stages when he hit four successive boundaries off paceman Jones in the fourth over, although the second was an outside edge which flew just past Flintoff at second slip.
The 50-run stand was completed in 6.3 overs, but just two balls later it was ended by Gough when Hayden’s attempted drive looped off the toe of his bat and provided Ashley Giles with a simple catch at mid-off.
That lifted England’s spirits before Flintoff was brought into the attack at the Nursery End, and he almost enjoyed immediate success as he twice beat Gilchrist’s bat but was not rewarded.
The all-rounder continued to frustrate Gilchrist and the pressure paid off in the 10th over when the opener tried to hit out but only managed to sky the ball to mid-wicket where Pietersen held a tricky catch.
That reduced Australia to 54 for two with two new batsmen at the crease in Ponting and Damien Martyn. The former plundered the first six of the day in the next over when he pulled a Gough delivery into the Mound Stand, but he was soon back in the pavilion for only seven.
Harmison came on and with his first ball found the edge of Ponting’s bat and wicket-keeper Jones dived to his left to take a leg-side catch.
Things almost got even better for England when Flintoff clipped the outside of Symonds' off stump, but incredibly the bails were not dislodged as Australia reached 78 for three at the end of the 15 overs of fielding restrictions.
Only 12 more runs were added before Harmison struck again as Martyn (11) edged a regulation catch through to Jones behind the stumps and the runs then dried up.
Symonds continued to look uncomfortable and Michael Clarke scratched around for 19 balls to make two before he was trapped plum in front of his wickets during an impressive second spell by paceman Jones.
That came during a sustained spell of pressure which saw Australia go 29 deliveries without a run before new batsman Hussey got off the mark.
Boundaries were few and far between as Symonds and Hussey looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over and they added 54 for the sixth wicket, but just as they looked ready to start hitting out Symonds (29) fell to Collingwood when he picked out Strauss at cover.
Harmison then claimed his third wicket when Hogg failed to deal with a brute of a short ball and he could only loop the ball in the air, with wicket-keeper Jones having plenty of time to run to his right and take the catch.
Two wickets in two balls from Flintoff in the 46th over added to Australia’s problems as Lee and Jason Gillespie both edged behind, leaving the Lancastrian on a hat-trick at the start of the 48th over but Hussey denied him.
Hussey completed his valuable half-century from 73 balls but ran out of partners in the penultimate over when McGrath holed out to Collingwood, giving Gough his second wicket.
It was the first time Australia had been dismissed in a one-day international since the first VB Series final against Pakistan five months ago.