| Andy Caddick celebrates the wicket of Damien Martyn for a duck during Englandís match against Australia in Port Elizabeth Sunday. (Reuters)
Port Elizabeth: Andy Bichel produced a matchwinning all-round performance as Australia edged out England by two wickets in World Cup group A action on Sunday to seal a world record 12th straight one-day win.
Bichel completed figures of seven for 20, the second best in the tournamentís history, before making 34 not out in a ninth-wicket partnership of 73 with Michael Bevan that gave their side victory with two balls to spare.
Bevan (74 not out) and Bichel led Australiaís recovery from 135 for eight, giving the world champions a maximum 12 points to carry into the Super Sixes. England will have to wait until Zimbabweís match against Pakistan on Tuesday to discover whether they progress to the next round.
England, who have now lost their last 14 one-day matches against Australia, must hope Pakistan beat Zimbabwe but do so without improving their net run-rate enough to overtake them.
If Pakistan manage to beat Zimbabwe, both those teams and England will finish with 12 points apiece and one win apiece in their head-to-heads. It will then go down to the net run rate where England have the edge. A Zimbabwe win on Tuesday would end Nasser Hussainís sideís interest in the tournament.
An enthralling match at St Georgeís Park ebbed and flowed throughout the day with Bichelís seven-wicket haul looking likely to set up a routine Australian victory as England mustered a paltry 204 for eight from 50 overs.
Bichel, who only played because of a heel injury to Jason Gillespie, removed the heart of Englandís middle-order with four for 12 in his first spell after Nick Knight (30) and Marcus Trescothick (37) had given the innings a promising start.
Alec Stewart (46) and Andrew Flintoff (45) gave the total a semblance of respectability with an England World Cup record eighth-wicket stand but Bichel returned to dismiss both batsmen along with Ashley Giles.
Australian openers Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden gave the England bowlers a bruising time on the recent Ashes tour and it seemed a familiar theme was unfolding when James Anderson conceded 15 off the second over.
England responded in the second over when Hayden attempted to hit Caddick to the legside but only succeeded in getting a top edge and Giles held the catch at mid-on.
Two overs later, Gilchrist (22) fell in similar attacking fashion, top-edging a cut to Michael Vaughan at thirdman. When Damien Martyn fell leg-before three balls later for a duck, Australia were in trouble at 33 for three.
Ricky Ponting struck Caddick for six in the ninth over but the bowler gained his revenge two balls later when the Australian captain top-edged a pull and was caught at thirdman for 18.
At 48 for four, Australia desperately needed a partnership and it was provided by Darren Lehmann and Bevan. The pair put on 63 for the fifth wicket and were only separated when Craig White came round the wicket and tempted Lehmann, who made 37, into edging a wide delivery behind.
Left-arm spinner Giles then claimed the first World Cup wickets of his career when Andrew Symonds (0) was caught and bowled and Brad Hogg was caught by wicketkeeper Stewart.
When Brett Lee was run out England were in total control but Bevan proved why he is regarded as one of the worldís best batsmen. He looked totally unruffled and with Bichelís confidence high England needed another breakthrough as Australia edged closer to victory.
Hussain decided against bringing Caddick back at the death and instead threw the ball to Anderson who was hit for a six by Bichel in the penultimate over to leave Australia requiring two off the final six balls.
Bevan hit the winning runs with two balls to spare to leave England on their knees and with an anxious wait ahead of them to see if a second World Cup campaign is to end at the first round hurdle. (Reuters)