After the 3-0 series romp, County Durham was the venue for an England kickstart in what has been a disappointing start to their one day summer. Home pundits had been calling for changes in a poor showing from the Pommies so far against the under strength Australians and 2 were made. Joe Clarke replaces Malan in another vice versa switch from the 2nd and 3rd ODI- (will they choose who they want at 3?), and Tom Curran replacing brother Sam after an expensive start to his debut series. The Aussies made the singular change with Travis Head rested for experienced Shaun Marsh.
The lethal partnership of Finch and Short was reignited with Tom Curran and Stokes aiming to strike early after new ball woes in the series so far. Stokes, with confidence with his last bat, took the early wicket of Short on a good length delivery, with Short looking to kickstart his innings. Lynn hadn’t fired so far throughout the series but he seized on some abysmal lengths and lines from the opening pair. Finch played a cameo role feeding the strike well to Lynn, who took down Curran and began to take on Rashid. But, the bowler of the series for England, Rashid took the wicket of Finch with another googly as batsman have struggled to pick Rashid’s deliveries. Marsh made a positive start and brought the Australians up to 130-3 after 22 overs in a quick fire run rate. However, after dispatching Curran for a boundary, Marsh succumbed to Curran’s slower ball and was trapped in front for 15 leaving Maxwell to join Lynn at 3-139.
Fireworks begun with Lynn continuing his imperious ball striking and Maxwell showing his destructive nature as Rashid, for the first time in the series, was knocked off his usual line and length. The 50 partnership was reached off only 31 balls giving the Australians hope for 350-400. Lynn took 24 off Woakes’s over before dispatching returning bowler Stokes for his 15th four to bring up his maiden ODI century. However, his celebrations were short lived as a rejuvenated Stokes trapped Lynn for the 3rd LBW out of 4. Lynn’s wicket was the first of 3 to fall for 3 runs as the inform Paine failed to pick Rashid’s top spinner and was bowled before Stokes took another in the next over as Stoinis inexpiably played a failed ramp and was bowled for 1.
Adam Zampa rebuilt the Australian innings in a cameo role with Maxwell taking the anchor with Plunkett in particular taking the brunt of Maxwell’s aggression. The run rate began to climb as England showed glimpses of anger and dispute with each other with 2 dropped catches of Zampa and a hard chance of Maxwell put down. 75 runs were added for the seventh wicket partnership before Woakes used his slower balls for success dismissing an impressive Zampa for 37. Maxwell’s onslaught continued whilst at the other end, Jhye Richardson contributed with a maximum of his own going into the final 5 overs.
Plunkett had frustrated Maxwell in the previous over and his steeping bouncer managed to dismiss Maxwell in the penultimate over for an 85 boosting Australia’s score. Tye fell first ball to Plunkett a few balls later but Richardson promptly smashed 16 of the final over to bring the momentum back to the Aussies. Lynn and Maxwell starred with impressive ball striking whilst Finch, Zampa and Richardson played cameo roles in a 334 which would be tough to chase down. Stokes was the main contributor with the ball with 3 as Rashid and Plunkett chipped in with 2 but at an expensive rate.
With a difficult chase ahead for England, they got off to a less than ideal start as Stanlake ripped through Bairstow for a golden duck. The NO3 position had been highly talked about before the match and the constant changing between Malan and Clarke hadn’t payed off so far and failed once more as Clarke nicked behind to Paine off Stanlake for a mere 9. Root took the mantle of the aggressor in an unfamiliar role for the Test Captain with Hales following suit to drag England inline with the required run rate. Boundaries flowed off the seam bowlers from both batsman targeting the short boundary to the offside. Zampa was attacked early on but it was Tye who broke through as Hales’s free flowing 44 was ended by a deceptively slow slower ball by the WA paceman.
The Vice Captain and Captain were joined together to dampen the Australian spirits with the pitch beginning to show signs of wear making the batsman’s life easier. Morgan and Root began to form a flourishing partnership with Zampa and Stoinis going at 9-12 runs an over. The momentum had turned towards England with both batsman reaching their half centuries and motoring on. Maxwell and part timer Short had bowled tight overs back to back and the pressure created culminated in the downfall of Root for a fabulous 92 playing too an extravagant shot on this occasion and finding the edge to Paine off Maxwell. (131 run partnership) Stokes followed the platform from Root and put on a brisk 28 with Morgan before the latter succumbed to the left arm spinner Short in front for 76. With only 95 required with 15 overs left, the game was firmly in the balance but the momentum of the record breaking partnership swung England into control.
Buttler had struggled so far in the series to replicate the form shown in the IPL but with the pitch in favour of the ball striker, he flourished in a supporting role with Stokes. Stokes bulldozed 8 boundaries in his innings with Australia’s main bowlers failed to strike the crucial breakthrough as England looked destined to victory. Richardson though sparked a twist in the tale as Stokes became the third out of four victims of LBW for 42. Woakes struggled throughout his 36 ball stay as the Australians kept the pressure on well to him but it didn’t deter Buttler who brought the total to 10 off the last 3 overs before Tye dismissed him for 48 becoming the fourth LBW victim. Rashid, though, finished the game off in style with a second ball six to defeat Australia and give England some light in a darker tunnel.
In a pleasing performance for England, the experienced heads found form and steered them to the big scoring chase with the Australians fairly disappointed to have bowled poorly especially at Root and Morgan with 7 bowlers used. Stoinis and Zampa in particular were too expensive and relied on part timers to fill up their allocation. The fault lied in the bowling and fielding performances as the batting was boosted by different contributors. We head off to Old Trafford in the final ODI with the Aussies intending to finish the series off 4-1. Alex Carey, Peter Handscomb and Clive Rose are expected to play a part in the final match with Rose on debut.
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