England strolled to victory with five overs to spare in the fourth ODI, despite Australia having scored at more than six runs an over.
Australia had chosen to bat first, field first and then field first again in the opening three matches of the series against England, all of which the visitors lost. With little more than pride to play for, captain Tim Paine went back to the drawing board and elected to bat first again… and the plan worked perfectly as Australia’s top three helped themselves to runs and took their side to 310-8 – their highest score of the series.
Openers Aaron Finch and Travis Head brought 100 up before Head departed for 63 off 64 balls (with nine fours). Finch and Shaun Marsh then collaborated to take the score to 225 in the 40th over, with Finch falling lbw to Mark Wood for 100 off 106 balls (six fours, three sixes), his sixth ODI ton against England, and the first man to achieve the feat.
Marsh upped the tempo to reach his second century of the series – 101 off 92 balls (five fours, four sixes) – and the lower order kept going, ending with a respectable run rate of 6.2 runs per over. Judging by England’s form in the previous three matches, however, it didn’t appear to be an extremely challenging total, but runs on the board is what matters and the Australians would have taken some heart from their performance.
David Willey was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-43, while Wood (2-49) and Adil Rashid (2-73) also took wickets. Joe Root played his part to throttle the Aussie run rate by returning the innings’ most economical figures of 0-44 off 10 overs (economy 4.40).
England opener Jason Roy followed up scores of 120 and 82 against Australia in the previous two ODIs with a thumping 101 off 83 balls – including 12 fours and two sixes – as he and habitual hundred scorer Jonny Bairstow added 174 for the first wicket inside the first 24 overs, thereby putting England well on track for the win.
Roy was the first wicket to fall, and he was followed shortly by Bairstow, who was caught behind for 79 off 66 balls. Bairstow’s innings included 10 fours but, uncharacteristically, he failed to clear the boundary rope with any of his strokes.
Root (27) and Eoin Morgan (15) kept the scoreboard rolling in partnership with Alex Hales, before Jos Buttler took the Aussie attack by the scruff of the neck, racing to 54 not out off 29 balls – with nine fours and a six – to give England a six-wicket win with more than five overs in hand. Hales was still at the crease undefeated after scoring a sedate 34 off 45 balls.
The win gives England a 4-0 lead in the six-match series and presents even greater challenges for coach Justin Langer and Paine, who will be hard-pressed to come up with a strategy to defeat their hosts.
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