Captain Eoin Morgan struck a sparkling run-a-ball 92 to propel England to a series-levelling three-wicket victory over Australia in the fourth one-day international at Headingley today.
Morgan led the way as England chased down a target of 300 to register the third highest successful run-chase in their ODI history, closing on 304-7 off 48.2 overs, after Glenn Maxwell (85) had top-scored in Australia’s 299 for 7.
The result –– England’s second win in as many games –– means Sunday’s fifth and final one-dayer at Old Trafford will decide the series, poised as it is at 2-2.
Only two teams have ever come from 2-0 down to win a five-match ODI series 3-2 –– South Africa, who overcame Pakistan in October 2003 and Bangladesh, who defeated Zimbabwe in January 2005.
Maxwell, dropped by Jason Roy on six and 35 by Adil Rashid, added 137 runs for the fourth wicket in 21.1 overs with George Bailey (75) after recalled David Willey had reduced the tourists to 30 for 3.
The partnership surpassed Australia’s previous best fourth-wicket stand in ODIs at Headingley of 126, posted by Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh against South Africa in 1999, their hundred stand having come up off 89 balls.
Bailey had just posted his fifty off 64 deliveries when Maxwell attempted to reverse sweep a quicker delivery from Moeen Ali and was bowled leg stump.
Australia’s position, nevertheless, seemed strong at 210 for 4 off 40 overs only for Liam Plunkett to shift the balance firmly in England’s favour with two wickets in three balls.
Matthew Wade (50 not out) countered, however, with some late fireworks after Australia had slipped to 215-7, striking a 52-ball fifty and sharing an unbroken stand of 84 in 51 balls with John Hastings (33 not out off 26 balls) –– 77 runs coming off the final six overs of the innings.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Wade ramped Mark Wood for a glorious six before clubbing the same bowler into the Western Terrace to finish the innings in style.
England’s chase got a shift on despite the early loss of Alex Hales, whose summer return in ODI cricket now amounts to 214 runs in nine innings at an average of 23.78 after he fell lbw to a Pat Cummins (4-49) yorker for a second-ball duck.
His opening partner Roy has 197 runs in this series alone, after crunching a blistering 36 off 33 balls – the best of his seven fours a straight drive off John Hastings in the sixth over.
His tame dismissal, caught in the covers playing too early at Cummins, after putting on 72 with the James Taylor (41 off 42) rather interrupted England’s momentum and Australia further pegged back the chase when Wade pulled off a one-handed catch down the leg-side to remove England’s in-form number three.
Morgan became England’s highest-ever ODI run-scorer against Australia when he had scored 11, surpassing Graham Gooch’s career mark of 1,395 runs, and brought up his fifty off 66 balls after his side reached the halfway point at 143 for 3 –– exactly the same score as the tourists had at the same stage.
Stokes (41 from 54) fell to a Mitchell Marsh yorker but Morgan refused to budge, launching Hastings onto the roof of a stand forcing a ball change; it took an outstanding one-handed catch from Maxwell in the gully to send the England skipper on his way, having swelled his series tally to 277 runs at an average of 69.25.
England needed 39 to win off 44 balls when Jonny Bairstow (31 off 27) gloved Maxwell behind attempting to reverse sweep but Wade then fluffed his lines by dropping Moeen Ali off James Pattinson on 11.
Liam Plunkett’s attempt to bludgeon England over the line was undone by a superb catch on the boundary by Maxwell, who took the ball one handed before flicking it back as he fell over the rope, collecting the ball one-handed when he regathered his balance.
Willey finished the match in style, striking Hastings down the ground for six to set up a show-stopping finale on Sunday.