England won the World Twenty20 in magnificent style with a 111-run partnership from South Africa-born batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter setting them up for a seven-wicket win over Australia on Sunday.
At a sun-blessed Kensington Oval, England restricted Australia to 147 for six before knocking off the runs with little trouble to claim their first men’s world title in limited overs cricket.
England’s triumph comes less than a year after they suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Netherlands at Lords in the 2009 World Twenty20.
That humiliation must have felt a lifetime away as skipper Paul Collingwood struck the winning runs with 18 balls to spare and his team raced on to the field in scenes of wild celebration.
Collingwood, who helped England win the Ashes in 2005, said the victory was amongst the best he has enjoyed.
“It’s right up there, it’s got to be, this is the first World Cup we’ve ever won,” he said. “When you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best. When we got them three wickets down early doors, we gave ourselves a great opportunity.
“This is the first (world) trophy we’ve ever won, we’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to savour it.”
David Hussey’s intelligent 59 had helped Australia recover from a dreadful start where they lost their opening three wickets for just eight runs.
Australia, the 50 overs World Cup and Champions Trophy holders, were searching for a unique treble of limited overs world titles.
The defeat came 48 hours after Australia’s thrilling comeback win over Pakistan in St Lucia in the semi-final and Clarke said his team had been outclassed.
“We needed to be at our best and we weren’t. England played some wonderful cricket,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said.
“They outplayed us today, they are very talented and play a lot of Twenty20. They executed their plans under pressure, we are disappointed but we can hold out heads high,” he said.
Clarke’s side were favourites but England responded well to losing opener Michael Lumb early, as Pietersen (47 from 31) and Kieswetter (63 from 49) went on the attack and destroyed Australia’s bowling.
Even when both lost their wickets, Eoin Morgan and Collingwood kept their nerve to steer England to glory without any of their customary nerves.
Clarke said Australia had been at least 30 runs short of a score that would have really stretched England and it was the early bowling and fielding that set up their win.
The stuttering start began when Shane Watson was caught by Graeme Swann at slip off Ryan Sidebottom after keeper Kieswetter had spilt the ball out.
Hard-hitting left-hander Dave Warner was then run out after a hesitant call from Clarke and then Brad Haddin was controversially ruled caught behind when replays showed Sidebottom’s leg side delivery brushed his hip.
After Clarke went, caught by Collingwood off the excellent Swann, Cameron White (30 off 19) and David Hussey led the recovery with a 50 run partnership in 6.2 overs.
Hussey had been dropped by Stuart Broad when on just 25 but Broad made some amends by taking a fine catch to remove the dangerous White.
Mike Hussey, who scored 60 off 24 balls in the semi-final, joined his brother and the pair put on 47 from 22 balls but England’s batsmen wiped out that hard work with clinical ease.
England had lost three times in World Cup finals, in 1979, 1987 and 1992 and also were defeated in the 2004 Champions Trophy final in their barren 35-year spell. -Reuters