Image courtesy of: The Metro
Clarke scored his maiden ODI century against England
Australia captain Michael Clarke recorded his maiden ODI century against England in style as he led his side to a convincing 88-run win in the second ODI at Old Trafford to give the baggy greens a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Clarke would have definitely been looking to get Australia back to their winning ways after being thrashed 3-0 in the Ashes series and not getting the opportunity to do so in the first ODI at Headingley since it was washed out without a single ball being bowled.
England captain Eoin Morgan, who was filling in for Alastair Cook, won the toss and elected to bowl first since he felt comfortable chasing.
Lanky pace bowler Steven Finn got England off to a perfect start as he dismissed opening batsman Shaun Marsh for a duck on the fourth ball of the match.
However, a 60-run partnership between Aaron Finch and Shane Watson soon turned things around until Watson was caught behind off the bowling of Ravi Bopara for 38 off 51 balls, which included six boundaries and a six.
Finch and Clarke kept the runs flowing as the pair put together a 56-run partnership before Finch was removed by James Tredwell just five agonising runs short of his half-century.
Finch’s knock of 45 had come off 45 deliveries and included four boundaries and a six.
Despite the loss of Finch, Australia kept taking the attack to England as Clarke and George Bailey registered an exceptional 155-run partnership, during which Bailey recorded his half-century and Clarke his century.
The partnership was finally broken when Bailey was caught out on 82 off 67 deliveries, which included five boundaries and four maximums.
Clarke followed soon after as he was caught behind off the bowling of Boyd Rankin for 105 off 102 balls, which included 14 boundaries.
Thanks to the efforts of Clarke and Bailey, Australia were able to post a mammoth 315 at the end of their 50 overs.
Finn, Bopara and Rankin all finished with two wickets apiece, while Tredwell chipped in with one wicket.
Chasing a difficult target of 316 to win, England got off to a shoddy start as opening batsman Michael Carberry and Jonathan Trott were dismissed in successive deliveries by Mitchell Johnson.
Joe Root followed a little while later as he was clean bowled by James Faulkner for just three runs.
Kevin Pietersen and Morgan stemmed the bleeding with a 59-run partnership, during which Pietersen brought up his half-century before he was caught out off the bowling of Watson for 60 off 66 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
With wickets starting to fall at regular intervals, Morgan and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler put up a fighting stand of 51 runs before Morgan was on his way back to the pavilion for 54 off 69 deliveries, which included four boundaries.
Buttler also registered a half-century, but was caught out on 75 off 65 balls, which included five boundaries and three sixes, as England were bowled out for 227.
Clint McKay was the pick of the Australian bowlers with three wickets, while Johnson snapped up two wickets and Faulkner, Watson, Fawad Ahmed and Adam Voges all chipped in with one wicket each.
Morgan was gutted to have allowed Australia to register such a thumping win, but praised Buttler for his hard-fought knock towards the end of their innings.
“Very disappointing,” he said. “We can learn a lot form today, we struggled to adjust to conditions early with bat and ball. I wouldn’t have made a different choice at the toss. We have a strong batting line up but we weren’t good enough today. We lost wickets at unfortunate times. We have a lot of bowling options to turn to but today it was a case of not enough guys putting their hands up. Boyd’s hit his straps straight away in international cricket and Jos played really well too.”
Clarke was named Man of the Match for his cracking century and praised his side for their outstanding all-round performance.
“It’s a nice feeling. all the boys deserve credit, to make over 300 on that wicket was good effort and our bowlers did really well,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you win but it’s the result that matters, as England showed in the Test series. As a one-day outfit we’re off to a good start. I’d like to play here all the time, it’s a nice wicket. Conditions were really good for batting, there’s so much talent in our dressing room and if our guys feel they want to take on a bowler no ground is big enough. George has been hitting the ball really well for a while now. And Mitch bowled with good pace, hopefully it’s the start of a big series for him.”