Buttler century clinches thriller as England win series 5-0
Jos Buttler hit a fabulous century to seal a thrilling one-wicket victory over Australia with nine balls to spare in a low-scoring but compelling Royal London One-Day International at Emirates Old Trafford today.
Man-of-the-Match Buttler finished unbeaten on 110 after driving to the cover boundary midway through the 49th over to complete a stunning comeback after England had faltered to be 114-8 in the 30th over and seemingly well short of their 205 target.
But nobody told Buttler or Adil Rashid who provided outstanding support in a ninth wicket partnership of 81 that took England steadily towards an unlikely victory in front of an increasingly boisterous crowd, many of whom had earlier spent ninety minutes cheering the England football team to a 6-1 World Cup victory.
But football was furthest from everyone’s mind as Buttler and Rashid turned the game around. After Rashid’s late departure we had great drama as last man Jake Ball heroically blocked everything the Australians could muster to leave Buttler to deliver the coup-de-grace and help England clinch a 5-0 series victory.
And England’s superb one-day form has just whetted the appetite for the World Cup competition to held on these shores in 2019.
After the run-fest of the previous three matches this game turned into a low-scoring thriller that engaged the capacity crowd throughout.
Australia won the toss and chose to bat on a good-looking pitch, and in the bright Manchester sunshine the visitors made a flying start.
Mindful of the big totals rattled up by their opponents in this series opening pair Aaron Finch and Travis Head signalled a change of approach with a hard-hitting start, striking eight boundaries and one six by Finch that landing deep in the crowd at square leg, to take the score to 50 inside six overs-the quickest start by the visitors in this series.
But the Aussies wasted this great position of 60-0 to be all out for 205 with all ten wickets falling in the space off 28.2 frantic overs.
It was Moeen Ali, brought on as early as the seventh over, who made the breakthrough with two wickets in his first over.
The off spinner held his third delivery back a bit in bowling Finch for 23 while Marcus Stoinis, promoted up the order, swept his second ball from Ali straight to Jake Ball at backward square leg.
Travis Head continued to attack with good effect, reaching his half-century from just 36 balls but his dismissal, clipping Liam Plunkett to Eoin Morgan at mid-wicket after reaching 56, was the first of three wickets to fall for 10 runs in 15 balls.
Shaun Marsh was brilliantly stumped by Jos Buttler, his fourth of the series tying an England one-day record, to give Ali a third wicket and the wicketkeeper then executed a fantastic pick up and throw, sprinting from behind the stumps, to run out Tim Paine for 1 with a direct hit at the bowler’s end.
That left Australia on 100-5 after the first ball of 15th over but Alex Carey and D’Arcy Short rallied the innings with a 59-run partnership in 10 overs, Carey hitting Adil Rashid for a six before edging an attempted glance to Buttler off Sam Curran after making a useful 44.
That was Sam Curran’s first one-day international wicket after being handed his debut this morning, and the Surrey left-arm seamer was celebrating a second just two deliveries later when Ashton Agar was bowled, inexplicably offering no shot.
Kane Richardson thumped a six over long-on off Rashid but was then involved in a terrible mix-up with Short to be run out for 14 and Rashid finished the innings in the 35th over with two more wickets, Nathan Lyon lbw for 1 and Billy Stanlake bowled for 2, leaving Short unbeaten on 44.
The early finish to Australia’s innings just before half-past one meant the England reply started straight away with the interval not due until 2.30pm and the wickets continued to fall.
Australia opted to open with spin bowler Agar and he struck immediately bowling Jason Roy for 1 with his fourth delivery.
England were then rocked by a fiery spell of 3-23 from Stanlake who took two wickets in one over, Jonny Bairstow chopping on for 12 and Joe Root edging to Marsh at slip for 1. When the Aussie paceman next bowled skipper Morgan for a duck England were in big trouble on 27-4 in the eighth over.
Alex Hales made 20 before nicking a wide delivery from Richardson to wicketkeeper Paine just before lunch which England reached on a precarious 66-5 after 16 overs.
Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler pushed the total up to 86 before Ali was undone by some extra bounce from Stoinis, getting a thick edge and caught by Lyon at point for 16.
That forced Buttler and Curran to settle for steady accumulation, although Curran quickly despatched a short delivery from left-arm spinner Short into the pavilion seats just after England reached one hundred.
But two wickets in two balls by Richardson put a now-jubilant Australia on top. Curran nicked a half volley to wicketkeeper Paine after playing nicely for his 13 and Plunkett threw a wild drive at his first ball to depart the same way to leave England tottering on 114-8.
Buttler reached an excellent half-century from 74 balls when steering Richardson to third man for his fifth boundary but in the circumstances, with 92 runs still required, had to curtail his normal attacking approach for one of steady accumulation.
Rashid provided great support, rotating the strike adroitly to keep Buttler on strike in a partnership that slowly but surely revived England’s faltering hopes.
Buttler brought up the fifty partnership from 60 balls with a sumptuous drive for 4 of Richardson in the 40th over to leave 39 runs required from the final ten.
Richardson was taken for three by Rashid and four by Buttler in the 42nd over and Buttler brought the crowd to its feet when driving the same bowler to the mid-wicket boundary to move into the nineties.
The pair brought the target down to 11 runs before Rashid, on 20, top edged Stoinis to long leg where Stanlake took a superbly judged catch.
Buttler then sensationally smashed the following delivery for a straight six to go to his century from 117 balls-his longest ever one-day international innings-and leave five required from four overs.
Amid huge tension around the ground Ball then played out a maiden off Agar, three singles were taken from the next over bowled by Richardson, and Buttler sealed a famous victory with a cover drive for four off Stoinis to complete an incredible win with nine balls to spare.
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