England finally broke their duck against Australia today after three months on tour - and kept alive their chances of reaching the Commonwealth Bank Series finals in the process.
Ed Joyce’s maiden England hundred coupled with crucial early wickets were chiefly responsible for the 92-run victory at the SCG.
It was England’s first win against any Australian side and their first in 10 attempts against their Ashes rivals here this winter, having been whitewashed in the Ashes, trounced in the Twenty20 contest and beaten in three previous one-day internationals. Such was the magnitude of the result, in fact, that they gained the bonus point required to draw them level with New Zealand in the standings.
This was a timely opportunity for Andrew Flintoff’s side to pile up 292 for seven, a new England record score against Australia in 50-over contests. The only bigger total against the old enemy was the 320 for eight made off 55 overs at Edgbaston back in 1980.
The contest was all-but decided by the halfway stage of the chase as Australia subsided to 137 for five - with power hitter Andrew Symonds retired hurt and unable to return.
Durham paceman Plunkett, who finished with three for 24, set the tone when he cleaned up Adam Gilchrist’s stumps with the first ball of the innings.And he reduced the triangular tournament hosts to 45 for three when Michael Clarke slashed a wide one low to wicketkeeper Paul Nixon.
In between those dismissals, the recalled Sajid Mahmood accounted for Brad Hodge, who played on attempting to withdraw his bat.
A stand of 71 in just eight overs between Matthew Hayden and Symonds redressed the balance and reduced the equation required to six-runs-per-over. But Hayden, who plundered 18 runs in one Flintoff over, picked out cover with a drive at Mahmood and debutant Ravi Bopara removed Michael Hussey, via an inside-edge.
Moments earlier Symonds left the middle, after succumbing to a sore right bicep.
The absence of Brett Lee lengthened Australia’s tail and regular wickets accounted for the tail with more than 11 overs to spare.
Needing to beat an Australia side without captain Ricky Ponting (hip) to retain realistic hopes of progressing beyond the group stage, the bid was enhanced when Ed Joyce struck England’s first one-day hundred in 15 outings.
Joyce followed his 66 against New Zealand earlier this week, a maiden half-century at international level, with 107.
A 111-run share with Warwickshire's Ian Bell for the second wicket eased England to 292 for seven. Irishman Joyce was dropped twice in his 136-ball century: debutant Shaun Tait fluffed the simplest of catches at third man, when on six, and Andrew Symonds got his left hand to a return chance on 59.
Unlike the majority of other matches in this triangular tournament, England kept wickets intact throughout the majority of the innings.
Joyce’s opening partner Mal Loye was caught at deep square-leg from a top-edged pull at Glenn McGrath to culminate a 58-run stand.
His departure came immediately after a 10-minute delay, as
physio Dean Conway patched up a wound to Loye’s chin which required three stitches. The 34-year-old was bloodied after being struck on the grille of the helmet attempting his signature slog-sweep.
Loye’s liking for going down on one knee resulted in a six over long-leg off left-armer Nathan Bracken and another four, off the same bowler, which landed yards inside the rope.
Bell’s 51 provided the innings with good tempo, his positive start against McGrath, whom he twice powered for offside boundaries in the 15th over, setting the tone.
Joyce played second fiddle at times but hit the ball forcefully, particularly in the arc between point and extra-cover, to find the rope on 10 occasions. It was McGrath who separated the pair, however, when Bell top-edged a pull immediately after a drinks break.
With wickets in hand, even captain Andrew Flintoff’s dismissal for single figures, leg before to leg-spinner Cameron White, did not disrupt a late charge.
Middlesex duo Andrew Strauss and Jamie Dalrymple each scored at faster than a-run-a-ball - the latter’s 30 occupying only 18 deliveries and including a smite for six over midwicket off McGrath.
Essex’s Ravi Bopara, 21, made his one-day international debut because Paul Collingwood suffered a bout of food poisoning.
England won toss. England beat Australia by 92 runs.
E C Joyce c Bracken b Tait…107
M B Loye c Bracken b McGrath…29
I R Bell c Gilchrist b McGrath…51
A Flintoff lbw b White…3
A J Strauss c Clark b Bracken…26
J W M Dalrymple run out …30
P A Nixon c Hodge b Tait…4
R S Bopara not out …7
L E Plunkett not out …10
Extras (lb5 w19 nb1) …25
Total 7 wkts (50 overs)…292
Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-169, 3-179, 4-222, 5-256, 6-261, 7-274.
Did not bat: S I Mahmood, M S Panesar.
Bowling: Tait 10-0-68-2; Bracken 9-1-53-1; Clark 10-0-55-0; McGrath 10-0-51-2; Clarke 4-0-18-0; Symonds 2-0-16-0; White 5-1-26-1.
A C Gilchrist b Plunkett…0
M L Hayden c Dalrymple b Mahmood…51
B J Hodge b Mahmood…1
M J Clarke c Nixon b Plunkett…18
A Symonds retd hurt …39
M E K Hussey b Bopara…6
C L White c Nixon b Flintoff…13
N W Bracken b Panesar…21
S R Clark not out …15
G D McGrath lbw b Plunkett…1
S W Tait run out …11
Extras (lb8 w16) …24
Total (38.5 overs)…200
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-4, 3-45, 4-116, 5-137, 6-160, 7-180, 8-187, 9-200.
Bowling: Plunkett 9.5-1-24-3; Mahmood 7-0-38-2; Flintoff 8-0-47-1; Panesar 10-0-64-1; Bopara 4-0-19-1.