The 5-match ODI series between England and Australia reached an anticlimax today at Manchester, as the Aussies literally overran their arch rivals in a lop sided contest. Their bowlers set the platform by bundling out the Englishmen for a paltry 138 in 33 overs. Aaron Finch quarterbacked their efforts with a breezy innings of 70* off 64 to take his team to a 8 wicket victory in the 25th over.
England collapse in all important encounter
After being down 2-0, England had showed admirable fighting spirit to level the series after the 4th ODI at Headingley. However, all hopes of seeing the two arch rivals get into an intense contest in the 5th ODI were washed away right at the start of the match. The hosts floundered, quite badly! Eoin Morgan’s decision to bat first, after winning the toss, backfired almost immediately when Mitchell Starc trapped opener Jason Roy leg before wicket with the fourth ball of the day. And in no time at all, a packed Old Trafford saw the top order collapse. John Hastings was pretty much the man for Australia in the first hour of the day. He sent both Alex Hales and James Taylor back to the pavilion in successive overs, and reduced England to 22/3 in the 6th over. Hope, in the form of Eoin Morgan, vanished in the very next over when he was forced to retire hurt by a well directed bouncer from Starc. And it looked pretty much game over for his team from thereon!
Ben Stokes (42 off 51) played a lone hand for some time, even as wickets tumbled at a brisk pace at the other end. Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and David Willey were all in and out in quick time. By the end of the 20th over, England were staring at an embarrassing total, as they stood shakily at 85/7. Thanks to Adil Rashid’s defiance (35 off 45) down the order, the home team managed to cross the 100-run barrier. Along with Reece Topley, he eked out a 32 run stand for the last wicket, and gave his team the proverbial ‘something’ to defend!
Aaron Finch takes Australia to easy win despite early hiccups
At the end of the English innings, the match promised to be over within an hour. However, Willey’s early strike sent back Burns in the 3rd over of the chase, and injected some drama into the proceedings. Mark Wood added some more spice to it with the wicket of Steven Smith in the 10th over. At lunch break, Australia were delicately poised at 36/2 in 10 overs. Such a scoreline gave rise to enough hopes of seeing a low-scoring thriller unravel in the next couple of hours.
However, all such fantasies vanished into thin air when Aaron Finch, assisted by George Bailey, decided to take stock of the chase. As the two batsmen started piercing the gaps in the field, and milking the singles every now and then, the total started appearing too small to defend. The effect of the two early wickets wore out pretty soon, as Finch rushed to his half century. Bailey, the less aggressive partner in a partnership of 109 runs for the 3rd wicket, scored a quiet 41 off 45 at the other end to keep the scoreboard ticking. The end to match came swifter than expected. Australia marched to a thumping, series-clinching victory, with more than 25 overs yet to be bowled!
Australia (140/2 in 24.2 overs, Aaron Finch 70*(64), David Willey 1/13) beat England (138 all out in 33 overs, Ben Stokes 42(51), Mitchell Marsh 4/27) by 8 wickets
Man of the Match – Mitchell Marsh
Man of the Series – Mitchell Marsh