Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler struck an unbeaten 110 as he carried his team to an incredible one-wicket win over Australia in the fifth ODI in Manchester.
As a result of Buttler’s heroics with the bat, England handed Australia their second-ever 5-0 series loss in ODI history.
Choosing to bat first, Australia came out all guns blazing as Aaron Finch and Travis Head amassed a 60-run partnership in under seven overs before Finch was clean bowled by Moeen Ali for 22.
Moeen struck again two balls later as Marcus Stoinis was caught by Jake Ball at short fine leg for a duck.
Head went on to make 56 off 42 balls, which included nine boundaries, before he was caught by England captain Eoin Morgan at midwicket off the bowling of Liam Plunkett.
With Australia skipper Tim Paine being run out by Buttler, the tourists were in danger of completely collapsing.
However, Alex Carey and D’Arcy Short stabilised the innings with a 59-run stand before Carey was caught behind off the bowling of debutant Sam Curran 44.
Australia continued to lose wickets in a hurry after Carey’s dismissal, and were eventually bowled out for 205.
Short was left stranded on 47, which came off 52 balls and included four boundaries.
Moeen was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Curran took two, and Plunkett and Adil Rashid chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 206 to win, England lost opener Jason Roy on the fourth ball of their innings as he was clean bowled by Ashton Agar for one run.
Jonny Bairstow only scored 12 runs before he was cleaned up by Billy Stanlake.
With Stanlake removing Joe Root five balls later and Morgan in his next over, England suddenly found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 27/4.
Alex Hales and Buttler managed to add 23 runs to the score before Hales was caught behind off the bowling of Kane Richardson for 20.
But, with Moeen, Curran and Plunkett failing to have an impact with the bat, England were in danger of losing the match as they were reduced to 114/8 in the 30th over.
However, Buttler and Rashid halted Australia’s charge as they put together an 81-run partnership before Rashid was caught by Stanlake at fine leg off the bowling of Stoinis for 20.
Even though Australia were one wicket away from securing a consolation win, Buttler denied them the opportunity to get it as he guided England across the finish line with nine balls to spare.
Buttler ended up finishing on 110 not out, which came off 122 balls and included 12 boundaries and a six.
Stanlake and Richardson took three wickets apiece, while Stoinis snapped up two and Agar claimed one.
Paine was gutted to have missed out on a golden opportunity to win, and said: “That one stung, we’ve been taught a lesson from a world class outfit. [Anything you could have done differently?] We could have got a couple more wickets, we had them under pressure, Rashid and Jos played well and we didn’t get enough balls in the right area. When we’ve been under pressure we haven’t produced.
“We bowled a touch wide, but they played outstandingly well. [Was 205 enough?] I thought we were in trouble at halfway, our bowlers came out and committed really well to what we spoke about. But again, once we’re under pressure, we folded, if we’re honest.
“Today we saw Alex Carey and D’Arcy Short play really well after the senior players let us down, Billy Stanlake and Ashton Agar showed some real talent. [Captaincy, wicketkeeping, etc?] It’s been difficult, but that goes with the job. When I came back in the Test side I tried to enjoy it, I probably let the pressure of this series get to me a little bit, if I’m honest.”
Morgan was ecstatic to have won the series 5-0, and said: “Massive positives to take, when times are tough and not enough of us have turned up, we bat all the way down the order and it means only one of us has to come off. Today Jos was quite mesmerising, playing with the lower order, we’re very proud of what he did. He’s come back form the IPL having dominated, he’s forced his way back into the Test team, and he’s a key part of our white-ball team.
[Pleased to win or disappointed with manner?] We’d be naive to think we shouldn’t ask questions, fact we won is a bonus, but we have to be honest about how we went about it. That performance is not what we want to replicate. The bowling has come a long way, the game at Trent Bridge was pretty special and how we fought back today was awesome.
“[Crowd happy with 5-0] Great atmosphere, fantastic support in Manchester, thanks for coming out and being absolutely brilliant, our 12th man today.”
Buttler was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, and said: “[Sweeter victory after that?] “Yeah it does, we were determined to come and and try and win 5-0, we bowled well but didn’t quite do it with the bat. We just needed a partnership, one of the great strengths of this side is the depth in the batting, we kept chipping away, knew that if we got through the tricky periods we’d get out the other side.
“[Ball at the end?] I did say if it’s two we’ll run and then charged down first ball, but great guts to see out those balls. It’s enjoyable when you’re playing well, just hoping for another win.”