An unexpected victory

England eased into their first major one-day final for 12 years by comprehensively outplaying limited overs champs Australia, thus ending a 15-game losing run against the old enemy. Captain Michael Vaughan continued his excellent form, first tying down Australia’s formidable batting line-up with his gentle off-spin and then hitting a brilliant 86. Hayden, Lehmann and Co. were restricted to 259 all out as England romped to a six-wicket victory at Edgbaston. Vaughan apart, Trescothick contributed hugely with three well-taken catches and an opening stand of 81. Andrew Strauss also made an unbeaten 52 as England reached 262 for the loss of only four wickets off 46.3 overs.

Facing them at The Oval in Saturday’s final were the West Indies, who easily accounted for Pakistan by seven wickets in their semi-final. Vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan made 56 not out as the islanders cruised past Pakistan’s total of 131 with more than 11 overs to spare, but Brian Lara had to retire hurt when on 31. He was felled by a Shoaib Akhtar delivery, which hit him at 92 mph just behind the right ear. Fit again, he led his side to the most unlikely of victories over England, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Reduced to 147-8 in pursuit of 218 set by England’s batsmen, their case seemed hopeless until Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw conjured up a dramatic unbeaten ninth wicket stand of 71 to take the ICC Champions Trophy. England could not believe it, especially Marcus Trescothick who had contributed 104 to his team’s total, but the West Indies pulled it off.