Australia contain then crush England

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Australia first contained then crushed England on Sunday with another ruthless exhibition of one-day cricket in the World Cup Super Eights.

After restricting England to 247 in 49.5 overs, despite Kevin Pietersen's first one-day century against the old enemy, the defending champions coasted to victory with seven wickets and 16 balls to spare.

Australia, bidding to become the first team to win a hat-trick of World Cups, moved two points clear of Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the second-round standings with eight.

England, still on two, have to win each of their three remaining matches to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals on April 24 and 25.

Pietersen's 104 was a strangely muted affair after he reached his half-century from 49 balls with five fours and a six.

He took another 68 balls to get to his fourth one-day hundred and struck only one more boundary.

Pietersen was also the beneficiary of some unusually fallible Australian fielding with Ricky Ponting missing a difficult chance at mid-on and Matthew Hayden dropping a simple catch running to mid-on as the batsman started walking off the field.

England, who had elected to bat before the largest crowd yet to assemble at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the final World Cup match in Antigua, lost captain Michael Vaughan (5) and Andrew Strauss, playing his first game of the tournament, for seven.

Ian Bell, promoted to opener, again looked in prime form, taking three fours through the off-side from one Glenn McGrath over and playing fluently on both side of the wicket during a third-wicket partnership of 140 with Pietersen.

His dismissal for 77, caught from a tame push to Michael Hussey at cover off McGrath, signalled the end of England's bid to set a demanding total as the wickets tumbled.

Only a six in the final over by Paul Nixon brought them close to the 250 which was a minimum requirement on a somnolent pitch.

Australia set about their run chase in typically business-like fashion. Openers Adam Gilchrist (27) and Matthew Hayden (41) each survived lbw appeals in the first two overs which could have gone the other way before posting an opening stand of 57.

Ponting, who got off the mark with a lofted on-drive off Monty Panesar for four, and Michael Clarke collected runs with deft placements and swift running between the wickets.

The Australia captain reached his half-century from 69 balls and seemed set for his second hundred off the tournament when he was run out for 86 by a direct hit from Paul Collingwood at point.

There was time for Clarke (55 not out) to reach an assured half-century and some brief excitement near the end when Andrew Symonds (28 not out) was caught by Pietersen on the boundary. After taking five steps inside the ropes the fielder stepped over and the batsman was given not out.

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