ODI tri-series 4th Match: Australia secure spot in final behind Smith’s century

Smith celebrates after scoring his third ODI century

Smith celebrates after scoring his third ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Australia stand-in captain Steven Smith scored a superb century to not only help his side beat England by three wickets, but also secure a spot in the final of the ODI tri-series.

However, England opener Ian Bell deserves a lot of credit for his gutsy knock of 141.

Smith would have been regretting his decision to bowl first after Bell and Moeen Ali amassed a 113-run partnership, during which Bell brought up his half-century, before Ali was caught by Xavier Doherty, who was the substitute fielder, at short cover off the bowling of James Faulkner for 46.

James Taylor only made five runs before he was caught by Faulkner at mid-off off the bowling of Moises Henriques.

Bell and Joe Root stabilised the innings with a 121-run partnership, during which Bell registered his fourth ODI century and Root his half-century, before Bell was caught by Mitchell Starc at mid-off off the bowling of Gurinder Sandhu.

Bell’s career-best knock of 141 came off 125 balls and included 15 boundaries and a six.

Bell's career-best knock of 141 was not enough to stop Australia from winning

Bell’s career-best knock of 141 was not enough to stop Australia from winning

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Sandhu struck again just two balls later when England skipper Eoin Morgan was caught behind for a golden duck.

Root ended up making 69 off 70 deliveries, which included six boundaries, before he was caught by Aaron Finch at mid-on off the bowling of Pat Cummins.

Root hit six boundaries during his knock of 69

Root hit six boundaries during his knock of 69

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Following Root’s dismissal, England’s lower order collapsed as they went from 275/5 to finishing on 303/8 off their 50 overs.

Sandhu was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Starc, Cummins, Faulkner and Henriques chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 304 to win, Australia got off to a brilliant start as Finch and Shaun Marsh put together a 76-run partnership before Finch was clean bowled by Ali for 32.

Marsh went on to score 45 runs before he was caught by Bell at backward point off the bowling of Steven Finn.

Finn picked up his second wicket just two balls later when Cameron White was given out lbw for a duck.

Smith and Glenn Maxwell steadied the innings with a 69-run partnership before Maxwell was caught by Root at deep midwicket off the bowling of Ali for 37.

Smith and Faulkner kept the runs flowing with a 55-run partnership, during which Smith recorded his half-century, before Faulkner was brilliantly caught by Bell at point off the bowling of Chris Woakes for 35.

Australia’s dominance with the bat continued as Smith and Brad Haddin accumulated an 81-run partnership, during which Smith brought up his third ODI century, before Haddin was caught by Bell at point off the bowling of Woakes for 42.

Henriques mustered four runs before he was run out by Taylor.

Despite the loss of Henriques, Smith kept his cool and guided Australia to a three-wicket win.

Smith ended up making an unbeaten 102, which came off 95 balls and included six boundaries and a six.

Woakes, Ali and Finn claimed two wickets each.

Morgan was gutted to have lost the match, and said: “Wasn’t a bad day in general. We played good cricket in stages. Ian Bell was magnificent but the last 10 overs let us down a little bit. Credit to Australia for how they bowled at the death. Having watched most of it and faced one ball of it, today was their day. It was extremely difficult to set up to and the variations were pretty good. I think 300 was about par. If they hadn’t bowled that well at the death we would have got 340-350, a match-winning score.”

Smith, who was named Man of the Match, was pleased with his side’s performance, and said: “It’s nice to get a few runs again tonight and get the boys over the line. A lot of credit has to go to our bowlers for how they bowled in the last 20 overs to keep them down to 300. They are very good at how they bowl at the end and have clear plans, hopefully they can keep that up in the World Cup. 300 was probably a good score for us to chase in the end. I’ll never forget this summer. I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve just got to try and keep going and score runs while I’m going well. I thought Haddin really took the pressure off me in the end today. Outstanding. We let it go a little bit later than we would have liked to but Starc came in at the end and put away the first ball. I can’t wait to get out at Sydney and play another game at my home ground.”

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