By Shrikant Shankar
Australia pulled off a five-run win over England in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) to claim the series 4-1. The target for England was only 218 runs and they looked set to win, as nine runs were required off nine deliveries with two wickets remaining. England transpired to lose both those wickets and Australia gained the win which would enhance their morale even more. This win just went onto showcase their stronghold over England.
England won the fourth ODI in Perth by a convincing margin of 57 runs after losing the first three matches of the series. They were looking for some momentum going into the Twenty20 International (T20I) series after enduring what is definitely their worst tour Down Under. They were outplayed in the first and third ODIs in Melbourne and Sydney. In the second ODI in Brisbane, James Faulkner’s heroics with the bat snatched victory from under their noses.
They bowled very well to restrict Australia for 217 for nine in Adelaide. The wicket was not the most conducive for batting, but the England batsmen did not get off to a flying start. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell scored slowly to add 23 runs for the opening wicket. Bell fell for 14 to Nathan Coulter-Nile. Man of the Match from the fourth ODI — Ben Stokes — was dismissed for a duck by Clint McKay. But a 61-run partnership between Cook and Joe Root helped England to recover.
Coulter-Nile struck again as he dismissed Cook for 39. England’s player of the series, Eoin Morgan joined Root and the duo added 64 runs for the fourth wicket. But James Faulkner struck twice in quick succession to dismiss both Morgan (39) and Root (55) to leave England struggling at 157 for five. Another of England’s impressive performers in the series Jos Buttler (5) fell cheaply. England’s lower-order offered little resistance and Australia gained the upper hand going into the last five overs.
Ravi Bopara seemed to have done enough for England, as they only required nine off nine deliveries with two wickets remaining. Unfortunately from England’s perspective, it was too much to ask tail-enders Chris Jordan and James Tredwell to pull off the victory. Shane Watson took the wicket of Tredwell and Australia won the game by a narrow five-run margin. With that they won the series 4-1. This follows Australia’s 5-0 victory in the Ashes series and they have looked every bit brilliant in all those victories.
If England had won the match, it could have given them a nice feeling heading into the T20Is, but now momentum is lost again. They might win the three-match T20I series, but the tour has been nothing short of a disaster for England. After a brief period of England dominance, especially in Tests, Australia have managed to get back the stronghold over their old rivals. Heading into the future, Australia will be a team to watch out for, whereas England will be on an all-time low. And to add to that, Australia regained the No 1 ranking in ODIs after the win.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
Also on cricketcountry.com