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England succumb to pace

Australian all rounder Shane Watson and fellow paceman Mitchell Johnson grabbed three wickets each to dismiss England for 169 in their Champions Trophy Group A tie on Saturday.

Watson struck with his second delivery to claim three for 16 while his fellow Queensland paceman finished with three for 40 to spark a superb comeback by the world champions on a slow pitch.

England openers Andrew Strauss, who top-scored with 56, and Ian Bell, who made a chancy 43, put on 83 runs together after Australia captain Ricky Ponting chose to bowl first.

However, Watson removed Bell to trigger a slump which saw England lose all their wickets adding another 86 runs to be all out in 45 overs.

The 25-year-old Watson and left-arm Johnson, 24, seen as Ashes contenders, found the perfect stage to shine on in a match dubbed the “mini Ashes” because of the actual series starting in Brisbane on Nov. 23.

Nothing seemed to go right for Australia until the 19th over, when Ponting brought on Watson as the third change.

Watson had Bell caught at cover by Michael Hussey and claimed the prize scalp of skipper Andrew Flintoff for four runs after Johnson struck in the previous over to have the aggressive Kevin Pietersen caught behind for one run.

England never recovered from the twin jolts as Australian bowlers took charge on a pitch where bowling second could be a disadvantage due to dew on the pitch which made gripping the ball difficult.

Strauss and Bell scored steadily as the pace trio of Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath gave too much width initially.

The 24-year-old Bell hit Bracken past midwicket and Lee through square leg and midwicket and Strauss hit McGrath, coming in as first change, for two consecutive fours straight up.

Bell was lucky on 23 when he skied McGrath to mid-off where Damien Martyn dropped a simple catch.

Johnson made it 84 for two by having Pietersen caught behind, to give Adam Gilchrist, the leading one-day wicketkeeper, his 350th catch. Gilchrist took four more to be one short of 400 one-day victims.

Watson targeted Flintoff with two short deliveries, forcing him to fend off the first before the England skipper skied a pull to midwicket where Hussey ran from the deep to take a low catch.

Strauss then nicked occasional off spinner Andrew Symonds to Gilchrist to make it 115 for four.

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