Australia snap England`s winning streak

London: Michael Clarke`s unbeaten 99 helped Australia win the fourth one-day international by 78 runs at The Oval here on Wednesday and reduce England`s lead to 3-1 in the five-match series.

Vice-captain Clarke and captain Ricky Ponting, 92, shared a third wicket stand of 155 as world champions Australia made 290 for five.

England, chasing a ninth straight ODI win, saw swing bowler Ryan Harris take five of their wickets for 32 runs.

The man of the match did the damage in a spell of five for 18 in 23 balls as England`s series lead was reduced to 3-1 after they were bowled out for 212 with 44 balls to spare.

Mike Yardy made a career-best 57, his first ODI fifty, but it was too late to make a difference.

"I have a smile on my face at last," said Ponting.

"Our batting today was at the level it needed to be."

Meanwhile, England captain Strauss said of his team: "The batting reverted back to old habits. We lost too many wickets too early."

"But we have to put this in the context of the series. We`ve had a lot of good days."

England opener Craig Kieswetter was bowled by Harris and Kevin Pietersen, walking well across his stumps, fell lbw to an inswinger for eight -- the 15th successive ODI innings where he`d failed to make fifty.

Strauss, fresh from his 87 in Sunday`s one-wicket win at Old Trafford, looked in superb touch as he stroked five fours in making 37.

But fast bowler Shaun Tait, from around the wicket, got a full length ball to curve away and left-hander Strauss was caught behind to leave England in trouble at 61 for three.

Eoin Morgan`s first scoring shot was a straight six off James Hopes and he later struck the medium-pacer for two in as many balls. But, flashing outside off stump, he was caught behind off Harris for 47.

Come the last 10 overs, England needed 93 to win with four wickets standing. Soon afterwards, though, Tim Bresnan holed out to long-on to give Harris his fourth wicket.

Harris ended the match by dismissing Stuart Broad for his third five-wicket ODI haul.

Clarke, dropped off a difficult chance on five, began the final over of Australia`s innings on 98 and on strike.

He took a single off Tim Bresnan and had no care for what would have been only his fifth century in 178 ODIs -- and first against England -- as Smith retained the strike.

Ponting had urged his batsmen to give their bowlers some runs to play with, and Australia`s total was the best by either side this series.

His three previous scores of 21, 13 and three were well below his own standards. However, he responded with a 93-ball innings featuring 10 fours and his progress towards a 30th century at this level seemed assured.

But he played an `inside-out` drive against swing bowler James Anderson and was caught at extra-cover by Strauss.

And in his 350th match at this level, Ponting became only the third player, after India`s Sachin Tendulkar and Sri Lanka`s Sanath Jayasuriya, to score more than 13,000 ODI runs.

Earlier, Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine got a leading edged against Bresnan and was caught by Morgan to leave Australia 33 for one.

It was the first time this series openers Shane Watson and Paine had failed to put on a fifty stand.

Ponting, though, was quickly into his stride, leg-glancing and cover-driving successive Bresnan deliveries for boundaries.

Watson followed up with a straight driven six off Stuart Broad.

Australia were 73 for two when off-spinner Graeme Swann struck with his third ball to have Watson (41) caught at deep midwicket.

They nearly declined to 84 for three when Clarke, on five, saw a powerfully struck drive off Swann burst through the hands of Anderson at short extra-cover.

The series concludes at Lord`s on Saturday.

Bureau Report


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