It’s victory time for Australia as they hammer the ICC World XI, consisting of cricket’s biggest stars from all around the world…
Criticised relentlessly since their return from the Ashes tour, the determined Australians sought redemption, compiling a competitive 255 for eight off their 50 overs and then running through the World XI for 162 in 41.3 overs.
"I’ve said all along that I think we’re still the best cricket team in the world," skipper Ricky Ponting said.
"It’s great to get out there and express ourselves the way we have. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while to play the brand of cricket we know we can play, so it’s very satisfying."
The World Cup champions were back to their upbeat best, with the bowlers hitting the pitch hard and the fielders buzzing about with purpose, although two outfield catches were put down.
Only Sri Lankan wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara rose to the challenge, clubbing 64 off 96 balls in opening the innings.
England’s Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff contributed 38 off 52 balls after being dropped in a sitter by Brett Lee on five. All-rounder Shane Watson claimed 3-43 off 10 overs, Glenn McGrath had 2-13 off seven overs and Brett Lee 2-31.
The rousing victory set up Australia for a crack at the series in Friday’s second game with the world team having plenty to do to keep the series alive.
"It’s very disappointing. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about responsibility and roles and we didn’t manage to get it right at all tonight," world skipper Shaun Pollock said.
"The guys are hurting, but we have to see it as a challenge and we’re going to have play like a helluva team if we’re going to come back from 1-0 down.
"There’s a lot of pride in the way the guys have played and it’s been dented tonight and I expect our guys to be really motivated for Friday’s game."
The world team crumbled to 50 for three in the 13th over with McGrath snaring the wickets of Virender Sehwag (6 off 10 balls) and Jacques Kallis (8 off 23 balls) and left-armer Nathan Bracken getting the big wicket of Brian Lara for a duck.
Sangakkara was dropped by Simon Katich on 31, a two-handed chance running back in the deep before Bracken snared Lara for a two-ball duck in the same over.
Lee cramped up Rahul Dravid with a short-pitched delivery and offered an easy catch to Ponting in the covers for four off 14 balls, leaving the world all-stars at 75 for four in the 19th over.
England’s Kevin Pietersen, booed to the crease by sections of the 18,435 crowd, only scored two before being caught leg before wicket to Watson.
Sangakkara’s daring innings ended to a low catch by Ponting at backward point off Watson, leaving his team at 101 for six in the 28th over.
Shahid Afridi, who came on as a super sub for Muttiah Muralitharan, went LBW to Symonds for two and Pollock was run out for five by a direct throw by Watson. Flintoff’s defiance ended on 38 when he holed out to McGrath running in from the ropes to give Watson his third wicket.
Flintoff hit a six and two fours in his 52-ball knock.
It was all over when Vettori found Ponting backward of the wicket to be out for 15 with 51 balls left in the innings.
Australia earlier rallied to score 255 for eight after spinners Vettori and Muralitharan had triggered a middle-order batting collapse.
Australia got off to a rollicking 80-run opening partnership between Adam Gilchrist (45) and Katich (58), but ran out of steam.
Muralitharan captured 2-41 off 10 overs and Vettori claimed 4-33 off 10 overs to have Australia struggling to reach a competitive 250-run target.
The hosts had slumped to 154 for 5 before Andrew Symonds (36) and Michael Hussey (32) steadied the ship with 52 runs for the sixth wicket.
Big hitting from Lee, with an unbeaten 26 off 17 balls, helped add 24 runs in the last two overs with Flintoff going for 12 runs in his last over and finishing wicket-less for 66 off nine overs.