England 314 for 4 (Roy 101, Bairstow 79, Buttler 54*) beat Australia 310 for 8 (Marsh 101, Finch 100, Head 63, Willey 4-43) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

England have given themselves a great opportunity to inflict their first 5-0 ODI series whitewash on Australia after a six-wicket victory in Durham with 32 deliveries remaining.

The result gave England a 4-0 lead with one game – in Manchester on Sunday – to play. It also meant that England have won nine of the last 10 ODIs against Australia who have, in turn, won only two of their last 17 ODIs. While England won 4-0 in 2012, the third game in the series was lost to rain.

It tells you how much ODI cricket has changed – and how quickly – that England’s victory in this match seemed all but inevitable from the first moments of their chase.

Not so long ago, a target of 311 would have appeared daunting. This was, after all, the second-highest successful run-chase in England’s ODI history (after the 350 for 3 they made against New Zealand in Nottingham in 2015) and Australia’s total had been, for a few hours, the highest ODI score on this ground.

But so accustomed have we become to England’s batting feats – and, so accustomed are we becoming to Australia losing in ODI cricket – that Australia’s total seemed every bit of 50 runs short of par on another fine batting track.

Indeed, Australia’s innings – despite containing two centuries and some fine batting – seemed to feature an oddly old-fashioned approach to the game. Instead of what is becoming – certainly from England – the familiar approach of capitalising on the first Powerplay, Australia’s top-order batsmen played themselves in and built something of a platform from which to build. And, at 225 for 1 with 11 overs to go, that looked a decent plan.

But the acceleration never really came. Instead the return of Mark Wood – bowling with pace and skill on his home ground – saw that become 227 for 3 and, with David Willey claiming three wickets in the 48th over – and another in the 50th – Australia were only able to make 14 from the final three overs of the innings.

Perhaps they lost their way long before then. England were able to introduce Joe Root’s part-time spin as early as the ninth over and, so timid were Australia against it, he bowled his full allocation straight through for the cost of just 44 runs. It was only the second time in his 112 match ODI career he had bowled his full 10 overs and afforded his captain far more flexibility to rotate the rest of his attack.

So, nicely though they played, Aaron Finch‘s half-century occupied 65 balls – longer than it took Alex Hales to make a century on Tuesday – and Shaun Marsh’s 62. Eoin Morgan made a fifty in 21 at Trent Bridge.

Promoted back to open the innings after a couple of games in the middle order, Finch survived a desperately tough chance to Hales at midwicket on 8 – Hales probably did well to lay a hand on the chance – as he patiently built his innings.

Travis Head was more aggressive. Feasting on some short deliveries from Craig Overton and David Willey, he made his 50 in 43 balls and looked set for a match-defining contribution before pulling a long-hop down the throat of mid-wicket.

And once Finch departed – trapped by one that nipped back and may have kept a fraction low – Australia’s plans for an acceleration faded away. Marcus Stoinis, back when he should have been forward, was beaten for pace and Ashton Agar, promoted to bat above Tim Paine and Alex Carey, edged a googly.

By the time Marsh, having just hit Adil Rashid for 25 in an over and completed his second century of the series, was brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary – Jason Roy took the ball but, realising that his momentum was going to take him over the rope, quickly threw it every bit of 20 yards to allow Overton to complete the catch – it became apparent that Australia were going to have to settle for a total some way below what may have seemed possible an hour earlier.

Roy and Jonny Bairstow soon made the target appear modest. With both men timing the ball beautifully and finding the gaps with apparent ease, they broke the back of the chase with an opening stand of 174 in 23.4 overs. Roy completed his second century of the series while Bairstow looked set to make his fifth in seven ODIs and his seventh in 20. Already they have more century stands together in ODI cricket than any previous England pair.

There was a wobble. Once Roy sliced to point and Bairstow’s late-cut found only the keeper, Root missed a slog-sweep and Morgan edged his heave. Had Hales, on 17, not been badly missed by Paine off Neser, Australia might have had a chance. But the chance went down and Hales embraced the role as finisher with admirable maturity while Jos Buttler proved once again that he is in magnificent form. If anything, the margin of victory flattered Australia a little.

Both sides made changes from the teams at Trent Bridge. England gave an ODI debut to Overton – Ian Botham presented him with his cap just before the toss – in place of the rested Liam Plunkett, while Australia brought spinner Nathan Lyon in to their side in place of the dropped Andrew Tye – who conceded 100 in nine overs in Nottingham – while Carey came in for the injured Glenn Maxwell (who has a right shoulder problem) and Neser instead of D’Arcy Short to provide more bowling options. England’s options to tinker with their side were hit when both Jake Ball (lower back) and Tom Curran (side strain) were ruled out through injury.

Either way, it meant England – even without three first-choice members of their attack – eased past this depleted Australia side once more. Few would bet against the whitewash now.

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