UP TO SCRATCH
England’s senior stars step up against shamed Aussies just when No.1 ODI ranking was on line
ENGLAND survived a batting wobble to see off Australia and hold on to their ranking as the world’s best ODI team.
A three-wicket win was far closer than it should have been, with England hunting down a slender target of 215 to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.
They had learned from defeat against Scotland and had their senior players – Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and man-of-thematch Moeen Ali (right) – to thank most.
But they will know it could have been easier.
In the first match between the nations since the Australia balltampering scandal, David Willey was the key man at the end to see home the team with an unbeaten 35.
He finished the game with a towering straight six, yet it should not have been left to him.
Morgan had batted beautifully for his 69, while Root was imperious in reaching 50, but a loss of three wickets for 10 runs provided a scare.
Skipper Morgan said: “I’m very pleased with the win, particularly with the bowling. I thought they were outstanding today and the spinners did a great job as they have done for a few years.
“We were good in parts and to win the game when you’re not as good as you can be is a great thing.
“Joe is a genius and very calm at the crease. Nothing is unachievable when he’s there, he’s a huge part of our team.
“And Moeen always gives you an option and he’s had a great day today. The Scotland game made us hone our skills a little bit. You never like losing but we did take the lesson from it.”
England’s bowlers were warned by Morgan that conceding more than 370 runs – as they had in Edinburgh – must be a oneoff. They responded.
First through Willey, who got the ball to swing, and then through their spin twins Ali and Adil Rashid, who reinforced the view that the Aussies struggle against spin.
Between them they bowled 20 overs and took 5-79, drawing Australia into playing a selection of daft shots. None was dafter than that of their skipper, Tim Paine (below), who wants his actions to speak louder than words. As he reverseswept Rashid straight to short-third man those actions screamed brainless.
Not long ago the disgraced Steve Smith was lecturing Glenn Maxwell on his training habits after axing him from the squad. Here it was up to the Big Show to rescue the innings.
His 62 at least gave his bowlers something to defend, but it never looked enough with the depth of England’s batting and this time they got over the line with six overs to spare.
50-50 VISION Skipper Morgan (left) and experienced No.4 Root (above) made important halfcenturies