Innings break England 66 for 5 need 140 more runs to beat Australia 205 (Head 56, Moeen 4-46)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A fiery spell by Billy Stanlake gave Australia the chance of avoiding a one-day whitewash despite an abject batting display at Old Trafford. Having been bowled out inside 35 overs, Australia were able to make multiple inroads into England’s powerful top order as Stanlake grabbed three in a spell where he touched 93mph.
Winning his fifth consecutive toss, Tim Paine had no hesitation batting first and after six overs the visitors had hurtled to 58 for 0. But the introduction of spin was again the Australians’ downfall, as Moeen Ali continued to mystify the touring batsmen and Travis Head threw away yet another promising innings.
It appeared the stage was set for another England canter but Ashton Agar, handed the first over, removed Jason Roy and the home side could not find their usual momentum. Jonny Bairstow dragged on against Stanlake before pace and bounce did for Joe Root, who edged a back-foot drive to slip, then the speed was too much Eoin Morgan who was bowled.
England avoided further loss to Stanlake when he was rested after a five-over spell, but Alex Hales chased a wide delivery from Kane Richardson to leave England 50 for 5 and their hopes largely in the hands of Jos Buttler. They could have been six down before the break had Head’s throw hit the stumps with Moeen Ali well short.
It had been a day dominated by the bowlers although nothing summed up the dire state of the Australian ODI set-up better than Agar shouldering arms to a straight ball that clattered into middle and off stumps from the debutant left-armer Sam Curran.
Apart from Head’s innings, which was speckled with crisp strokes before ending with a lame front edge to midwicket, Alex Carey showed an aptitude for the sweep shot in a useful 44 that might have been more substantial had he voided the temptation to try to run Curran down the third man. D’Arcy Short, in a new middle order role, also played decently but was left stranded on 47.
Seeking a 5-0 sweep of Australia for the first time in the history of ODI encounters between the two nations (they won 3-0 in 1997 and 4-0 in 2012), England handed a debut to Curran, with his cap presented before play by James Anderson. Liam Plunkett and Jake Ball were also included, for the injured Craig Overton and the rested Mark Wood and David Willey.
The Australians omitted Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser for Short and Kane Richardson as they chased some sign of improvement after England’s domination of the series thus far. Glenn Maxwell remained unavailable due to a shoulder problem. On a fine day in Manchester, the pitch was flat, the outfield fast and the brimful of runs.
This much was clear when Curran’s first over for England went for 14 runs, and when Eoin Morgan introduced Root’s part-time spin both Aaron Finch and Head made it clear they would not allow him to settle as they had done in Durham on Thursday, playing a flurry of shots. But Moeen’s off-breaks were a more challenging proposition, and a subtle change of pace beat Finch on the back foot as he attempted to play the pull shot.
Two balls later and Marcus Stoinis, promoted to No. 3, offered a rather indolent sweep shot straight to short backward square leg, meaning England had wrested the momentum despite a run rate still nearly 10 an over. Head and Shaun Marsh attempted consolidation, but when the South Australian captain miscued to squander another platform, a shuddering collapse soon followed. Marsh was deceived by Moeen and artfully stumped by Buttler, before Paine misjudgment – risking a single as Buttler threw down the stumps – left him with a meagre 36 runs for the series and questions about who will captain Australia in their next ODI series.
A fluent Carey threatened to salvage a decent total for a time, but the former’s exit was swiftly followed by Agar’s lapse, and the rest of the innings was a case of Short having far too much to do before being left stranded.