Martyn celebrates at England~~s expense

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Jaipur:Stylish Australian batsman Damien Martyn has more than one reason to please with his match-winning performance against Ashes rivals England in a crucial Champions Trophy match.

He was a purists' delight during his fluent 78 here on Saturday, steering Australia to a crushing six-wicket victory in a match they desperately needed to win to stay alive in the competition.

Martyn's knock came when his side were wobbling at 34-3 while chasing a modest 170-run target. It was a special innings on a special occasion, for he had turned 35 the same day.

The birthday boy also had a point to prove against England.

Martyn suffered a slump in form on the Ashes tour of England last year, scoring 178 runs in five Tests with an average of 19.77. Soon, the knives were out and he lost his place in the Test side.

"It has been a year since we last played England and that was a great series," said man-of-the-match Martyn, playing his first big game against England since the Ashes series.

"We have been waiting for this game for a long time. Since we left England, we have been looking to get back and we enjoyed. It was a nice batting wicket and it was nice to get some runs."

This was not the first time Martyn had delivered under testing conditions. He hit a match-saving century at Chennai in 2004 before his team went on to win the Test series for the first time in India in 35 years.

Martyn was all elegance against England, batting as if it was the easiest job in the world. He drove the ball flawlessly on both sides of the wicket to reduce the bowlers to a state of helplessness.

He did not take time to assert himself, greeting key England paceman Steve Harmison with three fours in an over. He raced to his half-century off 35 balls and also won the duel with Harmison, who conceded 45 runs off 4.5 overs.

"They did not bowl great," said Martyn.

"When I walked in there I did not go with any set plans. It just happened that way, with the powerplays and the field in. And with (Michael) Hussey at the other end, we were able to build a partnership."

Martyn put on 118 runs for the fourth wicket with Hussey (32 not not) to ensure England did not bounce back into the day-night game.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was all praise for Martyn, saying the middle-order batsman was always an asset to the team.

"I'm sure Damien was quite pumped up to get out there and play the way he did," said Ponting.

"Certainly in my eye he has not been under any pressure. He is a valuable, vital player. Coming in at number four, you need to be a certain sort of player and we saw how good Damien is.

"Damien, in particular, played him (Harmison) very, very well and we put away most balls that he bowled. If he comes to Australia and bowls that way, we'll be looking to do exactly the same thing."

England tour Australia next month for the Ashes series.

Martyn has scored 4,361 runs in 65 Tests since making his debut against the West Indies at home in 1992. But he struggled to cement his place as he was out of the Test side for seven years before coming back in 2000.

He has also proved himself in the shorter version of the game with his classy batting. He has already made 5,200 runs in 205 one-day internationals with five hundreds and 36 half-centuries.

Martyn's knock on Saturday virtually ended England's chances of qualifying for the semi-finals from the four-team Group A. They have lost both matches, while India, the West Indies and Australia have posted one win apiece.

The top two sides advance to the next round.

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