Aussie win leaves England on brink of World Cup exit

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, April 8, 2007 (AFP) – Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s 86 helped see the champions a step nearer the World Cup semi-finals as they beat England by seven wickets in the Super Eights match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here Sunday.

Together with Michael Clarke, Ponting shared a third-wicket stand of 112 as Australia reached their target of 248 with 16 balls to spare.

Clarke was 55 not out off 63 balls and Andrew Symonds, who finished the match with a four off Sajid Mahmood, unbeaten on a run-a-ball 28.

Although England didn’t require a victory to keep their semi-final hopes alive, this defeat left them needing to win all three of their remaining Super Eights matches against Bangladesh, South Africa and the West Indies while hoping other results go their way.

Victory meant Australia, chasing an unprecedented third straight title, had gone 24 unbeaten at the World Cup since a 10-run defeat against Pakistan at Headingley in 1999.

Kevin Pietersen’s maiden World Cup hundred was the cornerstone of England’s 247 all out.

Pietersen, whose 104 was England’s first century this World Cup, put on 140 for the third wicket with Ian Bell (77) after his side slumped to 24 for two.

But Australia fought back by ta