England grind out win
The one-day international series between England and Australia will go down to the wire, after the hosts reached their target of 300 with four balls to spare at Headingley. The Aussies were heavily wounded by their unsuccessful Ashes campaign, and had come out on top in the opening two contests, at the Rose Bowl and Lord’s, by 59 and 64 runs respectively. However, after England claimed at the Emirates Old Trafford with a handsome 93-run victory, the pressure was back on the hosts, and, after yesterday’s close encounter, it does feel as if the momentum has very much slipped away from the visitors.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat, but their hopes of a big score suffered a setback early on when Aaron Finch was dismissed for two by the fast-medium bowling of David Willey. Steven Smith is a man capable of some impressive scores with the bat, but it was not one of his better days, dismissed to Willey lbw for just five runs. At this stage, England had their opponents on the rack, and Willey again found joy, forcing Aaron Finch to make a shot that was gobbled up by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Australia had to pick up their form, and they duly did, with Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey putting on an impressive partnership. Maxwell was particularly impressive, with his innings consisting of ten fours and two sixes, before he was dismissed for 85 by spinner Moeen Ali. Bailey also stood firm, but was eventually caught and bowled by Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett. Mitchell Marsh has struggled with the bat on English woes, and it continued this time around as he went for 17 off the bowling of Plunkett. Marcus Stoinis was the last victim, outwitted by Ali, and caught by Adil Rashid. Nevertheless, Australia ended their innings on a respectable 299-7.
England’s reply got off to a bad start, with Alex Hales going for just one to the bowling of Pat Cummins. Jason Roy has been by far the stronger of the opening batsmen, and that showed again, as he accumulated 36 before going to Cummins. James Taylor has stood out this series, and, at 25, still has many years ahead of him. His knock of 41 was not his best, but he still managed eight fours. The star of the show was captain Eoin Morgan, who made it three half-centuries in four ODIs with a splendid 92, including two sixes. Bairstow and Ben Stokes were more patient in their run-scoring, but still emerged with credit with scores of 31 and 41 runs. At this stage, the fans were expectant, and the excitement emanating from the stands was surely felt by those at the crease. There were hearts in mouths from the England faithful when Plunkett went for 17 after an extraordinary ‘double-catch’ from Maxwell, although even the most ardent home fan would have been impressed with the athleticism shown by the Australian. However, Ali and Willey saw their team over the line, with the latter scoring the decisive runs, as an emphatic six down the ground meant that both teams still have everything to play for.
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