Australia September 16; Michael Clarke, battling against the troublesome back which made him doubtful for this match, and Shane Watson led Australia’s fightback in the deciding ODI after Ben Stokes had rattled them with two wickets in two balls immediately after a rain break.
Stokes removed Aaron Finch first ball on the resumption and followed by bouncing out Matthew Wade, who was promoted to No. 4 ahead of Clarke, to leave Australia 48 for 3 after they had chosen to bat. But England’s inexperienced attack – even more so in the other matches of this series due to Steven Finn being ruled out with a side strain – could not keep up the pressure as Clarke and Watson picked off loose deliveries in an unbroken stand of 104 in 15 overs.
Finn’s place in the line-up had gone to Chris Jordan, the Sussex pace bowler, as he earned his maiden ODI cap having been with the squad throughout the series. He soon caught the eye with his speed – nudging 90mph – and although he was twice driven by Finch in his first over, in his second he beat Phillip Hughes for pace and the left-hander, who had replaced the injured Shaun Marsh, top-edged to midwicket.
Finch, who plundered a world-record 156 on this ground in last month’s Twenty20, continued to attack against Jordan and Boyd Rankin but Australia did not restart well after a half-hour rain delay. Finch slashed at Stokes and provided a catch to backward pointing without giving himself a sighter and Stokes, who bounced out Marsh in Cardiff, then sent down a well-directed short ball at Wade who made his second first-ball duck of the series.
Clarke was not convincing at the start of his innings as England went after him with a short ball, but consistency was lacking to allow both him and Watson plenty of scoring opportunities. Watson was particularly powerful as he picked off Stokes through the leg side and the allrounder was also straight-driven for six by Clarke.
Further sixes followed for Watson off Ravi Bopara and James Tredwell, amid another concerted effort to attack the spinner, whose first three overs cost 28 – 17 of those came off his second. Bopara drifted too often on to leg stump and England’s attack was looking a little threadbare.
England 1 Michael Carberry, 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Ben Stokes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 James Tredwell, 11 Boyd Rankin
Australia 1 Phillip Hughes, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 George Bailey, 6 Adam Voges, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Fawad Ahmed