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Comprehensively thrashed are the only words that come to mind as Australia wrapped up their short limited overs tour of England with a fourth defeat, having struggled to compete with a solid all-round England outfit with either bat or ball. The fifth and final ODI of the series in Manchester was a rain shortened affair, but that did not prevent the English from asserting their supremacy over their visitors. Having been put into bat in trying conditions, Australia managed to scrape together 145-7 in 32 overs on the back of a fighting 46 from George Bailey. England romped to a further reduced target with 11 balls and 7 wickets to spare with Captain Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara both notching up half-centuries.
England came into the fifth and final ODI at Manchester with an immense 3-0 lead looking for a rare whitewash against the waning Aussies who were essentially playing for pride. After a wet outfield delayed the start for a long time, the action finally got underway with the hosts winning the toss and opting to bowl first. Tim Bresnan unfortunately missed out due to a sore elbow and James Tredwell took his place in the side, slightly surprisingly ahead of Chris Woakes. Steve Smith and Xavier Doherty made comebacks for the Aussies in place of the injured Lee and Watson and that meant a heavy dose of spin in the shortened 32-overs-a-side game.
Makeshift opener Matthew Wade really struggled to get going against the in-form English new ball bowlers, and even David Warner took a while to get his bearings right. Stuart Broad was brought on as first change and though the seamers produced some unplayable deliveries, they went unrewarded as Wade was dropped a couple of times. Warner started hitting the ball well and the boundaries started to come while Wade was still finding it tough out in the middle. Warner then tonked Broad for maximum and while going over the infield later in that over, he managed to send one straight down the throat of Samit Patel, only to be granted a life too!
Just when one thought the visitors were finally having some luck run their way, James Tredwell trapped Warner (32) plumb in front in his first over. Peter Forrest was soon after run out for 3, and two balls later Tredwell picked his second when Wade (12 off 41) skipped down the track only to be beaten by the flight with the wicketkeeper doing the rest behind the stumps. Skipper Michael Clarke then joined the others in the pavilion for 1 after an Eoin Morgan direct hit caught him well short of his crease while attempting to steal a needless single. It was all upto David Hussey again to start the recovery in company of Steve Smith with his side in trouble at 56-4 after 16 overs.
Steve Smith was looking good out in the middle, making an impressive 21 before being caught down the leg side off a poor loosener from Bopara, as Australia slid to 77-5 in the 20th over. Bopara's day got even better in the next over with David Hussey his latest victim, caught behind for 9.
George Bailey and James Pattinson rescued the innings from complete despair, adding 34 runs for the 7th wicket before the latter was given out controversially for 13, caught behind off Steve Finn. For the sake of clarity, it is worth pointing out that the stump mic indicated a definite presence of a sound, but Umpire Aleem Dar turned down the appeal initially. England had already wasted their review, but the third umpire was still called in to adjudicate, and ruled the batsman out. While there could be those who suggest that the umpire was called to check if the low catch taken by Kieswetter was genuine, there is little doubt that an Umpire of the quality of Dar should have been able to spot that by the naked eye, and used the technology to make up for his error in initially giving the batsman not out. Was the correct decision made? Yes. Would Australia have every right to feel aggrieved? Also yes!
Some educated edges and a few lusty hits late in the innings propelled Australia to a semi-competitive 145-7 on the back of a useful unbeaten 46 (41b) from Bailey, who came to the visitors' rescue once again.
Australia's hopes of finally winning a game got a massive boost when they removed the very much in-form Ian Bell in the first over of the England innings for 4, Clint McKay having the opener caught at midwicket. Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott stabilized the innings, but Australia kept things tight in the early stages, and were rewarded with the wicket of the latter for 10, with skipper Michael Clarke inflicting the damage.
However, the in-form duo of Cook and Ravi Bopara took charge of proceedings, and scored their runs at a healthy rate to put the hosts back in the driver's seat. The duo added 92 runs for the third wicket in 16 overs to snatch the game away from Australia.
Captain Cook made a cultured half-century, scoring 58 from 78 balls before falling to Ben Hilfenhaus with the finishing line in sight. Bopara took over thereafter, bringing up a half-century of his own to see England home in the company of Eoin Morgan (9*) with 11 balls to spare, after another spell of rain had further reduced the match to 29 overs.
A disappointed Australian side will head home, armed with the knowledge of just how dangerous England are in home conditions, and are likely to come back a lot better prepared for their assault on the Ashes next year. England meanwhile get set to face a new challenge in a quality South African line-up, in what is certain to be one hell'uva series.
England: A Cook (c), I Bell, J Trott, R Bopara, E Morgan, C Kieswetter (wk), S Broad, S Patel, J Tredwell, J Anderson, S Finn
Australia: D Warner, M Wade (wk), P Forrest, M Clarke (c), G Bailey, D Hussey, S Smith, J Pattinson, B Hilfenhaus, C McKay, X Doherty
Australia 145-7 (32 overs, 4.53rpo)
G Bailey 46* (41) R Bopara 2-8
D Warner 32 (32) J Tredwell 2-23
England 138-3 (27.1 overs, 5.07rpo)
A Cook 58 (78) M Clarke 1-13
R Bopara 52* (56) B Hilfenhaus 1-19
England win by 7 wickets with 11 balls to spare (D-L Method)
File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee
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