Australia is closing in on a historic win in its third one-dayer against England as Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey continue an incredible comeback.
The visitors — needing a win to become the first team to beat the Poms in a one-day series in the UK in five years — looked toast at 5/73 from 17 overs in pursuit of 7/302.
But Maxwell and Carey launched a counter-attack, combining for the highest sixth wicket partnership in Australian ODI history to keep the target within reach.
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Earlier, Jonny Bairstow revived England from the depths of 2/0 with a superb hundred as the world champions made triple figures in the third and deciding one-day international at Old Trafford.
Opening batsman Bairstow watched from the other end as left-arm quick Mitchell Starc took two wickets with the first two balls of the match.
But Bairstow counterattacked superbly and went to his century in style with a legside six off a delivery from fast bowler Pat Cummins.
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He made 112 before falling to Cummins’s slower ball and with Chris Woakes making an unbeaten 53, England passed 300.
Bairstow’s 10th century in 83 matches at this level came from 116 balls, including 10 fours and two sixes.
He also shared a fifth-wicket partnership of 114 with Sam Billings, whose 57 followed his 118 in England’s series-opening loss.
England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and batted on a fresh pitch with the three-match series all square at 1-1.
But from the first ball, Jason Roy edged a drive off Starc to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.
Next ball, Starc had Test captain Joe Root LBW with an inswinger.
Starc’s sizzling start
Cricket: Mitchell Starc has opened the second ODI with a bang taking two wickets with the first two balls of the match.
England was 2/0 before left-hander Morgan survived the hat-trick. Morgan (23) drove Adam Zampa to mid-off before the in-form leg-spinner had Jos Buttler chipping to extra-cover for just eight.
But Billings gave Bairstow excellent support, completing a 53-ball fifty before he too fell to Zampa, when a miscued reverse sweep lobbed to short third man.
Zampa finished with fine figures of 3/51 from his maximum 10 overs — becoming the first Aussie to take 10 wickets in a three-match ODI series. When Bairstow was dismissed, England was 6/220.
Adil Rashid, taking advantage of a short legside boundary when the bowling was from the Pavilion End, heaved Starc for six.
In the last over, Josh Hazlewood conceded 14 runs.
Woakes faced just 38 balls for his fifty, with England adding a valuable 53 runs off the last five overs.
Starc finished with a relatively expensive 3/74.
SMITH ‘A LITTLE GROGGY’, OUT AGAIN
Australia was again without Steve Smith, the star batsman not featuring at all in this series after being hit on the head by a throwdown from a member of the tourists’ coaching staff while batting in the nets last Thursday.
The visitors insisted he was being rested purely as a precaution despite passing two concussion tests.
But, having seen Smith bat in the nets again on Tuesday, they decided against playing him, with Australia captain Aaron Finch saying at the toss: “Steve Smith had a long hit yesterday and pulled up a little groggy. When you’re dealing with a head injury, you want to be cautious.”
Australia was unchanged but England recalled fast bowler Mark Wood, fit after an ankle injury, in place of Sam Curran.
That followed a dramatic 24-run win on Monday when Australia, seemingly cruising to victory, lost its last eight wickets for 63 runs.
This is England’s final fixture of a home season overshadowed by the coronavirus. If they win, it will mean they have not lost a series in any format across 18 matches this summer.
— with AFP
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