Jos Buttler’s magnificent century hauled England back from the cliff edge to secure a one-wicket win and a 5-0 sweep of the ODI series against Australia.
Given that Australia offered just 206 for victory, and England did it with a nervy last-wicket stand, this will go down as a thriller; but for Australia, this must be one of their more humiliating defeats. They had been so close to victory, reducing England to 114-8 in the 30th over, but they could not close it out.
Buttler played a superb innings, taking advantage of every loose ball he received. He had 12 fours and one six among the 122 balls he faced for his unbeaten 110. Yet, he may even come under some criticism for twice taking a single which exposed his No 11 batsman, Jake Ball, to the full force of Australia’s attack for 10 balls.
Australia opened the bowling with the left-arm spin of Ashton Agar, who immediately removed Jason Roy for one, and brought in Nathan Lyon’s offspin as first change; a tactic which obviously paid dividends. But it was seamer Billy Stanlake who took three early wickets to rock England.
England needed a run-rate of marginally over four an over, but found themselves having to go into defensive mode at at 27-4 with Roy (one), Jonny Bairstow (12), Joe Root (one) and Eoin Morgan (nought) all back in the pavilion.
Buttler faced the constant erosion of his support, but Moeen Ali (16 off 31 balls), Sam Curran (15 off 21) and Adil Rashid (20 off 47) were hugely influential.
Australian can only look back on the manner of their defeat, after they elected to bat and started well by putting on 60 for the opening wicket and then collapsing to the spin of Ali, who took 4-46.
From 60-0 in 6.3 overs, the Australians scraped together just another 145 in 28 overs. Tim Head was the leading scorer with 56, with solid contributions from Alex Carey (44 off 40 balls) and D’Arcy Short (47 off 52). While Aaron Finch had contributed 22 to the opening stand, no one else rose above 14.
Who would have thought it would come down to the last wicket with nine balls remaining?
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