(ESPNCricinfo) – Twin tons to Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey carried Australia past a precarious start to ensure a match and series victory against England in the final ODI at Emirates Old Trafford.
Their 212-run partnership rescued the tourists from 73 for 5 and resigned England to their first bilateral ODI series defeat at home since 2015
Both fell in the dying stages, leaving it to Mitchell Starc to bring up the winning runs with a cool head and a swinging bat.
The result overturned Jonny Bairstow’s powerful century, which had lifted England to a commanding total from their own troubled beginning.
Early wickets to Chris Woakes and an inspired turn by part-time spinner Joe Root had Australia in dire trouble in their pursuit of 303 before Maxwell’s 108 off 90 balls and Carey’s 106 sealed the series 2-1.
Going into the last international men’s fixture of a belated English summer, the hosts teetered on 2 for 0 within the first two balls of the match.
But Bairstow’s authoritative 112 from 126 balls, combined with half-centuries to Sam Billings – with whom he shared an innings-saving 114-run stand for the fifth wicket – and Woakes, allowed England to reach 302 for 7.
Woakes backed up his fine unbeaten 53 from 39 balls with two quick wickets to put Australia in trouble at 31 for 2.
Root’s introduction looked on the surface to be a masterstroke by master captain Eoin Morgan, but had been foretold by the eventual dismissal of Bairstow earlier, beaten between bat and pad by a ball from seamer Pat Cummins which turned sharply into the batsman and clattered into the top of off stump.
Australia wobbled when Woakes had Finch and Marcus Stoinis out cheaply, the latter holding his place in the side after Steven Smith was left out again still feeling the effects of the blow to the head he took in training six days prior.
The tourists visibly slumped when Root dismissed David Warner with his fifth ball, which ripped off a middle-and-leg line to clip the top of off stump. Root then had Mitch Marsh out in his next over to a deflection onto his knee-roll which looped up and landed safely in the gloves of Jos Buttler.
Australia were 73 for 5 after Carey dabbed a Root delivery to the off-side and dashed off for a quick single, leaving Marnus Labuschagne exposed to Billings’ sharp throw to Jos Buttler.
Australia should have been six down when Carey, on 9, holed out to Adil Rashid at third man, but it turned out that Jofra Archer had over-stepped and Carey was reprieved. Maxwell was also let off on 44 when he edged Rashid to Buttler, who failed to gather behind the stumps.
Carey and Maxwell brought up their 100-partnership off as many balls. By the end of the 35th over, Australia were 186 for 5 compared to England’s 184 for 4 and Maxwell did his best to up the tempo when he thumped Rashid for a huge six into the second tier wide of long-on.