x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Australia seal the series

England are down and out as Australia coast to an unassailable 4-0 series lead with a comfortable seven-wicket victory at Lord's.

Having won the series with three matches to spare, Ricky Ponting can now look forward to avenging Australia's Ashes defeat by inflicting a 7-0 whitewash over England. The Australia captain returned from a 10-day break to lead the visitors to an unassailable 4-0 lead in the seven-match series. Ponting fell two runs short of his half century but not before putting his team on the path to victory over Andrew Strauss's beleaguered men at Lord's yesterday. Ponting's 60-ball knock contained five boundaries, and he added 60 for the third wicket with his likely successor, Michael Clarke, before falling to a sharp catch to Ravi Bopara at short cover off Tim Bresnan with the total on 168. Clarke remained calm and composed for an 81-ball 62 not out, and with Callum Ferguson (20 not out) saw his team through to a clinical seven-wicket triumph. The pair added an unbroken 53 for the fourth wicket. Tim Paine had earlier shared half-century stands with Shane Watson, 51 in 58 deliveries for the opening wicket, and almost added a run-a-ball 57 for the second wicket with Ponting. Brett Lee bowled magnificently to skittle out England for 220 in 46.3 overs. The Australian speedster returned with five for 49 from nine overs, hitting the timber four times with some toe-crushing deliveries. Strauss led from the front, stroking a superb 63 off 72 deliveries, reaching his second successive half century before top edging the spinner Nathan Hauritz to Nathan Bracken at short third-man to leave the home side at 113 for three at the half-way mark. Strauss, enjoying a golden summer with the bat, had opened the innings alongside new partner Joe Denly, who was caught by Cameron White at first slip for Lee's first wicket. Bopara (26), Matt Prior (29) and Owais Shah (39) failed to build on their starts and England's batting folded after Strauss'suntimely departure. Together with team director Andy Flower, Strauss now has to somehow pick his team up off the floor in time for the next match at Trent Bridge, a day-night game on Thursday. apassela@thenational.ae