Bell and Bopara batter Australia
Australia were heavily punished for an inadequate performance with the bat as Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara led England to a hugely convincing six-wicket triumph at the Kia Oval and a 2-0 lead in the NatWest Series.
Bell made the most of being put down on two occasions to continue his superb run of form with 75, while Bopara was run out for 82 shortly before victory was completed, having previously looked untroubled throughout his 85-ball stay at the crease.
Their efforts, together with a breezy unbeaten 43 from Eoin Morgan, helped England canter to a target of 252 with 26 balls unused in front of another sell-out crowd.
In truth, an eighth successive win for Alastair Cook’s improving side – who were without the injured James Anderson - looked on the cards from the moment their run-chase began.
After progressing with relative smoothness to 100 for two, Australia lost their way badly either side of Shane Watson’s departure for 66, scoring just 40 runs between the 21st and 35th overs.
George Bailey eventually kicked on to reach 65, but a total of 251 for seven always appeared some way short of par and was overhauled by England with few alarms.
Bell, fresh from striking 126, 53 and 41 since being reinstated at the top of the order last month, was not at his fluent best, but still offered frequent glimpses of his immense quality.
An effortless straight six off Watson represented the highlight of his innings, while Bopara - who also dismissed Australia captain Michael Clarke en route to figures of 1-16 from five overs - was elegance personified as he guided England to within two of their target.
The Essex batsman needlessly ran himself out in what proved to be the final over, having shared 90 with Bell and 79 in 12.1 overs with Morgan, who overturned an lbw decision that went against him second ball.
England now have the opportunity to wrap up the five-match rubber, with two games to spare, at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
7:06pm - ENGLAND WIN BY SIX WICKETS!!! - That's all folks! Morgan squirts an edge off Clarke past wicketkeeper Wade and England can celebrate a convincing victory. After triumphing in a tight game at Lord's, they were far too good for Australia today and now hold a 2-0 lead in the NatWest Series.
7:04pm - WICKET! Bopara run out 82; Eng 250/4 - Dear oh dear Ravi! With just two required from 29 balls, he needlessly attempts to steal a single to mid-off and is beaten by Lee's direct hit. A shame, as Bopara deserved to finish not out today.
6:59pm - Both Morgan and Bopara are now scoring at will and England are just 11 shy of their target with six overs remaining. Australia will be hurt by the manner of this defeat.
6:52pm - Bopara has not offered a chance, as far as I can recall. He drives Clarke through the covers and Morgan guides one down to fine-leg to celebrate a fifty partnership for the fourth wicket.
6:48pm - Clarke is back on, but I very much doubt there is anything he or anyone else can do to prevent an England win, and a convincing one at that.
6:40pm - Australia's hopes are fading fast now. Morgan is looking good following his early scare, while Bopara continues to accumulate runs with the minimum of fuss. The Essex man punishes a full toss from Lee with a powerful push through the covers and England require 43.
6:31pm - Morgan pierces the gap between cover and mid-off before flicking Lee for four more through square-leg. That was an incredible piece of timing. Just 60 needed from 13 overs.
6:27pm - With the batting powerplay having been enforced, McKay comes on in Clarke’s stead. We have just seen the Snickometer’s verdict on that Morgan review, which suggests the ball did not touch the bat!
6:22pm – FIFTY! Bopara (54b 5x4 0x6) - Bopara has the responsibility of leading England home following Bell’s departure. After driving Lee down the ground for his fifth four, he brings up a valuable half-century, made in quick time.
6:17pm – REVIEW - Goodness me! Morgan is given out second ball to Clarke, but immediately reviews the lbw decision. HotSpot appears to show a faint inside edge and the batsman survives! That would have made things very interesting. England need to just calm things down here.
6:12pm – WICKET! Bell b Clarke 75; Eng 171/3 Australia’s captain brings himself on and strikes first ball, bowling Bell, who was looking to cut, with one that went on with the arm. Game on?
6:10pm - A glorious off-drive off Johnson takes Bopara to 37. He has provided fine support to Bell and this third-wicket stand is now approaching three figures.
5:58pm – DROPPED CATCH - The first ball of a new spell from Lee almost yields a breakthrough. Bell pops one up to point, but a diving David Warner cannot hold on to a dipping chance.
5:56pm – REVIEW - More rubbish from Johnson, who begins his third spell with wides on either side of the wicket. The erratic seamer then calls for a review after striking Bopara’s pad, but the ball was pitching outside leg. England need 98 from 120 balls.
5:50pm - Doherty’s ODI record is fairly impressive, but he has looked very average so far in this series. Bell is keen to take the attack to the left-arm spinner and now has 69. Australia are lacking a spark.
5:42pm - I do not want to tempt fate (and believe me, I’m good at it where cricket is concerned!) but this is all looking rather simple for England. McKay is back on from the Vauxhall End and Australia are in desperate need of wickets.
5:31pm - FIFTY! - Bell (71b 4x4 1x6) - Hussey is chipped over midwicket and that is another half-century for Bell. He has recorded scores of 126, 53 and 41 since being reinstated at the top of the order. Can he go on to make another hundred today?
5:27pm - Bell cracks Watson past point for his third four and Bopara picks up a boundary too with a fine sweep off the returning Doherty. We will have spin from both ends now, with David Hussey into the attack.
5:19pm - A slice of luck for Bell; he feathers one from Watson through to Wade, who is unable to hold on standing up to the stumps. Ravi Bopara appears to be settling into his stride now. A pull through deep backward-square off Lee results in his first four.
5:10pm - The bowling powerplay is taken and Watson initially keeps things tight. Lee then replaces Johnson and some energetic running enables England to collect four singles. They just need to keep wickets in hand now.
5:02pm - Another no-ball from Johnson in an otherwise eventful over. The required run-rate is a mere 4.88.
4:53pm – WICKET! Trott b Watson 17; Eng 81/1 - Bell saunters down the track to plant Watson over long-off for six. That was simply delightful, yet a wicket follows later in the over as Trott chops on playing an uncharacteristically loose shot. Not sure what he was thinking as he backed away from a straight ball in an attempt to give himself room through the off side.
4:48pm - Shane Watson becomes the fifth bowler to be used inside 13 overs as Clarke seeks a much-needed second breakthrough. Ooohh, he almost got one there! Bell nicks another length delivery, but the ball drops agonisingly short of wicketkeeper Matthew Wade. A better over follows from Johnson, who, aided by a cross breeze, is now finding some good shape back into the right-handers.
4:39pm - McKay finally errs in length and Trott cashes in with a confident cover-driven four. Johnson, fresh from returning 0-20 in his opening two-over stint, returns at the Pavilion End and gets taken for eight more. Australia simply cannot afford one of their frontline bowlers to be this expensive.
4:30pm - Trott picks up four with a delightful reverse-sweep off Doherty and England end the mandatory powerplay on 53 for one.
4:26pm - The accurate McKay bowled well at Lord’s and is comfortably outperforming his more illustrious bowling colleagues so far this afternoon. He finds Bell’s outside edge, but the ball lands short of slip and runs away for four. Jonathan Trott has one to his name and this situation appears tailor-made for England’s number three.
4:12pm – WICKET! Cook lbw McKay 18; Eng 40/1 - The hosts are halted in their tracks as McKay traps Cook in front with a full delivery that seamed back. That looked absolutely plumb from my vantage point and the seamer completes a wicket-maiden.
4:10pm - Michael Clarke has seen enough from his opening bowlers. Clint McKay replaces Lee and forces a play-and-miss from Bell with his fifth ball before seeing a half-hearted lbw appeal turned down. Spin is introduced at the Pavilion End in the form of the X-Man – Xavier Doherty. His first delivery is driven for four by Cook and the sun is shining on England’s reply.
4:01pm - Lee beats Cook’s defensive push before losing his line and conceding five wides down the leg side. Johnson over-steps once more at the start of his second over and is punished again as Bell carves the free hit past mid-off. Johnson then bowls yet another no-ball, which is also cut for four by Cook, at the end of the over. This time the free hit is not costly, but England have 31 on the board already.
3:50pm - That is a missed opportunity for the tourists. Bell steals a single from Johnson’s second ball, but Cook would have been heading back to the pavilion had the bowler managed a direct hit at the non-striker’s end. A front-foot no-ball follows and the subsequent free hit is pulverised past between cover and mid-off by England’s captain!
3:45pm - Brett Lee, who needs just one more scalp to become the outright leading wicket-taker for Australia in 50-over cricket, opens up from the Vauxhall End. Cook is under way with a single to third man, while Bell punches one across the square on the off side for three. Here comes Mitchell Johnson!
3:39pm - Here come Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, who have both exhibited fine form recently. Let’s see just how useful Australia’s score was!
3:25pm - We have just received confirmation that play will resume at 3:40pm. The drizzle ceased some time ago and hopefully we have seen the last of it today.
3pm - Unfortunately the rain has returned. England are scheduled to begin their reply at 3:28pm, but that may yet be delayed as it is a pretty grim scene out in the middle at present. I'll be back to guide you through the run-chase when it does begin.
2:55pm – END OF INNINGS; Aus 251/7 - Six of the best from Lee, who swings a Bresnan full toss towards the pavilion in the 49th over. He is then dropped again by Morgan off the final ball of the innings, although it was a very difficult chance on this occasion. The general consensus in the press box is that Australia are some way short of a par score, but we will have to wait and see. It has gone very cloudy overhead, but hopefully any showers stay away during the interval.
2:45pm – DROPPED CATCH - Lee picks out Morgan at long-on off Dernbach, but is put down! I think the fielder may have been worried about stepping over the rope there.
2:40pm - WICKET! Wade c Broad b Bresnan; Aus 223/7 - Two in four balls for Bresnan! Wade attempts an ambitious ramp shot and succeeds only in finding Stuart Broad at short fine-leg. Things going awry for Australia.
2:36pm – WICKET! Bailey b Bresnan 65; Aus 222/6 - Wade shows his class by slicing Broad past point for four. Not quite so smooth from Bailey in the next over though; he aims an enormous heave at Bresnan and is comprehensively bowled by one that shaped in. Brett Lee comes out ahead of Johnson.
2:30pm - Matthew Wade, who looked good at Lord’s before being run out himself, has joined Bailey. The senior batsman clips one off his hip for an elegant four and Australia have five overs to add to their current total of 213.
2:26pm – WICKET! Hussey run out Finn 29; Aus 206/5 - A special piece of work from Finn gives England a welcome breakthrough! After initially mis-fielding in his followthrough, the fast bowler springs back to his feet and, despite being off balance, throws down the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a wonderful underarm throw. Superb stuff!
2:19pm - More good fortune for Bailey, who, after being sent back by Hussey, sees Bopara miss the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a throw off his own bowling. Ravi has done a fine job with the ball today. Five singles come from the medium-pacer’s fifth over to give him figures of 1-16.
2:15pm - FIFTY - Bailey (72b 6x4 0x6) - Bresnan returns and a pulled four from Bailey heralds the fifty partnership for the fifth wicket. The Tasmanian duly moves to a half-century of his own and Swann is furious later in the over when Bresnan, running round from deep midwicket, is unable to get his hands to a steepling chance. Eight overs left and Australia are 194 for four.
2:07pm - Hussey follows his partner’s lead by lofting Dernbach over mid-on for four. The Surrey seamer then gets his slower ball all wrong and is taken for four more by Bailey, who now has 42 from 68 balls. Twelve from that set of six and the batting side have some momentum at last.
2:02pm - After a quick drinks break, Bailey finally shows some aggression. An ugly heave beats mid-off and Finn’s next delivery is diverted past fine-leg in an over yielding 11.
1:53pm - Three overs of batting powerplay gone and just the 13 runs so far. England have bowled tightly but I am really struggling to understand the approach of Bailey. He needs to hit out or get out.
1:46pm - A textbook straight-drive provides Bailey with his second four. That was worth waiting for, but more boundaries are needed if Australia are to post a par score. Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson are still to come and can both give it a whack.
1:41pm - Progress remains awfully slow for the tourists. With 15 overs remaining they have crawled to 140 for four. Bailey and David Hussey simply have to take advantage of the batting powerplay, which is now enforced. Dernbach takes the ball.
1:34pm - A boundary arrives at last as Bailey tickles one down to fine-leg off Swann. The captain of Australia’s Twenty20 side is playing a distinctly turgid innings thus far and has 18 from 45 balls.
1:27pm – WICKET! Watson c Finn b Swann 66; Aus 128/4 - Bopara is unsuccessful with an lbw appeal against Bailey. No more reviews for England, but that was only clipping leg and would not have been overturned. With the innings stagnating, Watson opts to go aerial against Swann, only to pick out Finn at deep midwicket. A prolonged period of disciplined bowling brings reward!
1:22pm - Only 24 runs from the last 10 overs. Australia badly need to get a move on.
1:19pm - Five singles from Swann’s fourth. Bopara then returns and Bailey clearly thinks it is time to get a move on. Unfortunately for him, he fails to connect when attempting to thump the ball to Lambeth.
1:12pm - Another miserly over from Swann; he has 0-4 from three and is doing a fine job in building pressure here. Finn, back on at the Pavilion End, is not giving too much away either. Singles only for the batsmen at the time being.
1:04pm - Australia reach the halfway point of their innings on 112 for three, having scored just 12 in the last five overs. Watson has 58 to his name.
12:59pm - George Bailey is the new man by the way; I’m slightly surprised to see him in ahead of David Hussey. That wicket of Clarke was just what England needed and the run-rate is dropping.
12:53pm - A double bowling change sees Graeme Swann introduced from the Vauxhall End. He concedes just two in his first set of six. A lot would seem to depend on Watson now.
12:47pm – WICKET! Clarke c Kieswetter b Bopara 10; Aus 101/3 - Ravi Bopara is introduced and ousts Clarke with his third ball! A lazy shot outside off from Australia’s skipper and Kieswetter made no mistake in collecting a thin edge.
12:44pm – FIFTY – Watson (50b 8x4 0x6)- It was Ian Bell who almost ran out Watson in the previous over. The same fielder leaps to his left on this occasion but cannot cut off a flick to the fence that takes the burly Queenslander to 52. Australia have 100 on the board after 20 overs.
12:38pm – REVIEW - Bresnan, another bowler not at his best so far, delivers the sixth wide of the innings, before a second review goes in Watson’s favour. This time the umpire is not convinced by Broad’s lbw appeal and replays show the opener was struck outside the line. A four past short fine-leg takes Watson to within three of 50 and he is then fortunate not to be run out as he scampers a single to mid-on.
12:28pm - REVIEW - Another wide from Broad, who has not found his radar as yet today. As I type that, he gets one to nip back at Watson and umpire Richard Illingworth raises the finger. DRS comes to Australia’s rescue, though, as a review confirms the delivery would have gone over the top. Broad then strays down leg again.
12:21pm - Broad takes a while to finish off his third over, sending down a front-foot no-ball and then a leg-side wide. Thankfully, only two runs are taken from the free hit. England take the bowling powerplay immediately. They would love another wicket.
12:15pm – WICKET! Forrest c Kieswetter b Broad 12; Aus 66/2 - Forrest’s forgettable stay at the crease is ended by a superb catch. The batsman glanced one down the leg side off Broad and wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter sprung to his left to complete a wonderful diving take. That brings Michael Clarke to the crease.
12:09pm - Plenty of debate as to what will constitute a par score here. The surface is typically true and the ball looks to be coming on to the bat nicely. I imagine Australia may be looking at getting close to 300. Another fine cover-drive from Watson helps their cause, he’s on 36 now.
12:05pm - Ah, hold on, the players have returned early. Bresnan completes the 12th over and the sun has broken through once again, although there are still a few threatening clouds around.
11:55am - Play will restart in 10 minutes. Perhaps that minor flurry of precipitation will have spiced up the pitch.
11:52am - Turns out the rain lasted a little longer than I anticipated. However, it has ceased now and the groundstaff are removing some of the covers. It looks as though a rope will be dragged around the outfield to clear away any excess moisture.
11:35am – RAIN STOPS PLAY; Aus 51/1 (11.2 overs) - Stuart Broad replaces Finn and is guilty of bowling a little too straight in his first over. We then have an unexpected delay as a shower passes over. I do not expect the players to be off for long.
11:28am - We have our first bowling change, with Tim Bresnan taking over from Dernbach at the Vauxhall End. His first ball is driven confidently through cover by Watson. Forrest gets going at last with three to mid-on’s right before clipping a loose delivery down to fine-leg for four. Twelve from the over and Australia have 46 on the board.
11:20am - A quiet over from Finn, who has 1-10 from four. Dernbach then follows up with a maiden and Australia’s new number three, Peter Forrest, is stuck on one after 14 deliveries.
11:11am – DROPPED CATCH - Watson capitalises on a half-volley from Dernbach by finding the rope at midwicket. He then edges to gully aiming to repeat the trick, but Jonathan Trott is unable to cling on to the ball as he dives to his right. Consecutive fours through point rub salt into the wound.
11:03am – WICKET! Warner c Bell b Finn 10; Aus 15/1 - That’s the end of a pretty awful innings from Warner, who has failed to back up his pre-match comments. He top-edges an attempted pull off Finn and offers up the simplest of catches to square-leg.
11:01am - Warner just cannot get his feet moving and plays all around another pitched-up ball from Dernbach. An unconvincing pull then lands just short of Alastair Cook at mid-on and bounces past England’s captain for four. He should have stopped that.
10:57am - A wild play and miss outside off from Warner; that will keep the two slips interested. After a tight over from Dernbach, Finn then squares the left-hander up before rapping him on the pad with a full delivery. For a moment, I thought the umpire’s finger had gone up, but it appears Warner got an edge to it and he picks up a run. Three overs gone and Australia are 10 without loss.
10:49am – David Warner thumps the first ball he faces, a wide full toss, through the covers. A bit of a freebie that, but Finn is soon on the money and beats the outside edge later in the over. Jade Dernbach will take the other new ball.
10:45am - Here we go then. It will be Steven Finn to get us under way from the Pavilion End.
10:40am - Not long to go now. This really is a huge game and one you feel Australia can hardly afford to lose. Steven Finn will certainly take one of the new balls for the hosts, but I am not sure who will partner him up front. Dernbach, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan are all more than capable of making an impression at the start of an innings.
10:29am - It will be interesting to see Australia’s approach with the bat this morning. Runs often flow freely at this venue, although England will be encouraged by the increased cloud cover evident in the last half hour. Interestingly, Alastair Cook says he would have bowled first.
10:18am – AUSTRALIA WIN THE TOSS AND BAT – Michael Clarke calls correctly for the second match in succession and elects to make first use of a typically true surface. Mitchell Johnson comes in for the injured Cummins, while Peter Forrest takes Steven Smith's place and will bat at three, with George Bailey moving down to six. Anderson will not feature today for England and has been replaced by Surrey seamer Jade Dernbach.
10:10am - The tourists may be 1-0 down, but opener David Warner, who struck 56 at Lord's, was in bullish mood when he addressed the media yesterday. You can read his thoughts here.
10am - In case you missed it last night, a reminder that Stuart Meaker has been added to England's squad as cover for James Anderson, who has a tight groin. No word yet on whether the latter will be fit to feature today, but we will find out all of the team news in around 15 minutes. In the meantime, here’s the full story on why Cummins is heading home.
9:55am - England managed to secure the upper hand in this five-match rubber with a hard-fought 15-run victory in Friday's opening game at Lord's. Eoin Morgan was the star of the show, with a dazzling unbeaten 89. I wonder if we will see a repeat performance from the flamboyant left-hander today.
9:50am - The early news from the ground this morning concerns Australia paceman Pat Cummins, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the series due to a side strain. We will have full details on the site shortly.
9:45am - Morning all! The sun is shining at the Kia Oval and we are one hour away from the second NatWest Series one-day international between England and Australia. I'll be with you for the next 10 hours or so to provide live text commentary.