England romp to World Twenty20 title
England swept to ICC World Twenty20 glory on the back of a thrilling seven-wicket win over Australia in a thoroughly one-sided final in Barbados.
They overhauled a target of 148 with full three overs to spare, earning them a first global title after 35 years of asking and capping a remarkable upturn in fortunes in the shortest form of the game.
It could be argued that the final was settled during a blistering start to a contest that lived up to all expectations - at least for the numerous travelling England supporters at the Kensington Oval.
England claimed three wickets in the first three overs to lop the top off a powerful Australia batting line-up, and, although they recovered to post 147 for six, Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen banished any remaining doubts over the outcome with a ferocious second-wicket stand of 111 in barely 11 overs.
Kieswetter smashed 63 off 49 balls and Pietersen 47 off 31, breaking the back of a run-chase that faltered only when both perished in the space of seven balls with the winning line in sight.
That allowed Paul Collingwood to hit the winning runs, deserved reward for a captain who has done so much to shape this vastly improved side.
As uplifting as England’s triumph was, the manner in which they played today - and throughout the latter stages of the tournament - will have brought more much cheer to those fans who have seen their side struggle to find a winning formula in limited-overs cricket.
That approach was exemplified by man-of-the-match Kieswetter and player-of-the-tournament Pietersen, who employed the sort of brutal strokeplay that has characterised England’s campaign to ensure the early loss of Michael Lumb was no more than a hiccup.
Reduced to a perilous eight for three after 17 balls, Australia were thankful for a spirited middle-order recovery started by Michael Clarke and featuring valuable contributions from Cameron White and David Hussey.
Clarke negotiated England’s early charge to make a run-a-ball 27, White smote 30 off 19 deliveries and Hussey made a more measured 59 off 54.
England’s bowlers - led by the exemplary Graeme Swann, who claimed 1-17 off four exemplary overs - came in for some late punishment, but Ryan Sidebottom nevertheless emerged with admirable figures of 2-26.
By contrast, Australia struggled to contain Kieswetter and Pietersen, and the lack of a frontline fifth bowler did not aid their cause; Shane Watson was plundered for 42 off three overs as England romped home in thrilling fashion.
The emphatic manner in which England wrapped up victory mirrored their early dominance with the ball, which began when Watson edged Sidebottom’s third delivery.
Wicketkeeper Kieswetter failed to cling on high to his right, but Swann, at slip, cut short his celebrations to pouch the rebound.
Australia’s nerves were evident in their reckless running between the wickets early on, and David Warner perished as a result, called for a ludicrous single by Clarke and comfortably beaten by Lumb’s direct hit as he charged in from cover point.
England’s joy turned to euphoria when Brad Haddin fell two balls later, Kieswetter diving full-length down the leg side to take a gloved pull.
There was no better indication of where the balance of power lay than the fact that Australia did not score a boundary until the fifth over, and managed just two in the first 12.
England’s tried and tested plan of employing both spinners in tandem after the fielding restrictions had been lifted bore fruit as Swann accounted for Australia captain Clarke in his second over.
Beaten in the flight as he advanced, Clarke chipped to short midwicket, where Collingwood flung himself to his left to take one of the catches of the tournament.
Hussey and White traded sixes in one Michael Yardy over that cost 21 as Australia finally found some momentum, and they looked to have laid the platform for a late-innings assault by sharing a half-century stand off 37 balls.
Their alliance had appeared increasingly ominous for England when Stuart Broad, back-pedalling at mid-on, misjudged a skier to reprieve David Hussey on 25, but he redeemed himself in remarkable fashion the following over.
Although White sliced Luke Wright, bowling his first over of the competition, over point, Broad made good ground towards the boundary to claim a splendid sliding catch.
David and Mike Hussey repaired the damage once more with a combination of controlled hitting and clever placement, David pulling a waist-high full toss from Tim Bresnan for six before stepping across to off and flicking Broad expertly over short fine-leg.
He went to a 49-ball fifty in the penultimate over of the innings, only to be beaten by Wright’s throw from long-on as he chased a second run to get back on strike moments later.
The early departure of Lumb, who drilled Shaun Tait to mid-on, failed to deter Kieswetter and Pietersen, both of whom refused to rein in the attacking instincts which have served them so well in the Caribbean.
Kieswetter’s method relies on a certain amount of luck, but the majority of his shots were packed with authority, most memorably a mighty sweep for six off a perfectly reasonable Watson delivery.
Pietersen was no less emphatic. As with Kieswetter, there were plentiful meaty drives, and his innings peaked when he lifted Tait, Australia's quickest bowler, over mid-on and into the stand at long-off off successive balls.
Kieswetter charged to his maiden international Twenty20 half-century off only 40 balls, and the 100 stand arrived off just 62. He celebrated by lifting Dirk Nannes one-handed over deep backward square-leg for six.
Pietersen lofted Steven Smith to long-off and Kieswetter was bowled, bizarrely, making room and offering no shot to Mitchell Johnson to raise fears of an England wobble.
A swept six from Eoin Morgan set the stage for Collingwood, who weighed into the hapless Watson with a flurry of trademark heaves through the leg side to spark scenes of utter jubilation amongst England players which have never been seen before in coloured clothing.