Eoin Morgan struck 92 as England chased down Australia’s 299 with 10 balls remaining at Headingley, to make it 2-2 with one match remaining.
Another batting collapse looked on the cards for England, which proved their downfall in the first two encounters, but they backed Tuesday’s performance up with a fine run-chase on Friday, to set up a tantalising decider on Sunday.
Australia won the toss, and as expected they chose to have a bat; a decision which proved pivotal in the first three matches. David Wiley, however, who came in for the injured Chris Woakes, blew away the top order with the wickets of Joe Burns, Steve Smith and Aaron Finch in quick succession, to leave the tourists reeling on 30-3.
A 137-run stand then followed, though, between George Bailey (75) and Glenn Maxwell (85). A flurry of wickets then fell again, and it took another crucial partnership to get Australia close to 300. Matthew Wade and John Hastings, who came in for the rested Mitchell Starc, blasted five sixes between them to finish not out on 50 and 34 respectively and lift their side to 298-7.
England then eyed their third-most successful run chase in ODI history, but in response, Alex Hales continued a lean patch to walk back for a duck, thanks to in-form Pat Cummins.
Jason Roy and James Taylor then set about rebuilding the innings and did so to good effect with a 72-run partnership. Cummins got in on the act from there with his second wicket to see off Roy for a 33-ball 36. Taylor (41) didn’t last too much longer as they teetered on another middle-order collapse.
Morgan and Ben Stokes put that to bed with a batting 91-run stand. Against the run of play a Mitchell Marsh yorker sent Stokes back for 41. Morgan pushed on as victory looked increasingly likely. It took a fine catch from Maxwell to see the captain off for 92.
Instead of crumbling under the pressure, the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali held firm and kept the required run rate under six an over. A stroke of genius from the English brain trust saw Liam Plunkett walk out at No 8 when Bairstow departed. He smashed 17 off 10 balls, before an even better catch from Maxwell – and you have to see it to believe it – gave Australia a lifeline.
England held their nerve as David Willey smashed the winning runs, to set up the decider at Old Trafford on Sunday.