Despite hundreds from Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh, Australia could manage only a par score – especially against this strong England side – in the fourth of five One-Day Internationals at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Thursday (June 21)
Finch and Travis Head set a strong foundation for Australia after Tim Paine opted to bat first. Finch went to make a 106-ball 100 and Marsh too scored a 92-ball 101, but a flurry of wickets towards the end meant Australia could manage only 310 for 8. David Willey was the most successful bowler for England, picking up 4 for 43.
Finch, who returned to the top of the order, started the proceedings by pulling the first ball from Mark Wood for four. However, he had a narrow escape while trying to repeat the act in Wood’s next over. Alex Hales, standing at short midwicket, flung to his right, stuck his right hand out but couldn’t cling on to the chance.
Head too got into the act with a couple of drives off Willey, who struggled to find enough swing despite the windy and overcast conditions. Head then welcomed Craig Overton by smashing the debutant for three fours in his first over in ODI cricket.
Head reached his fifty off 43 balls, which included nine fours, while at the other end, Finch was happy playing second fiddle. The duo added 101 in 19.1 overs before Head (63 off 64) ended up hitting a half-tracker from Adil Rashid straight down Willey’s throat at deep midwicket.
Meanwhile, Joe Root, who was brought on in the ninth over, quietly slipped in his quota from one end, giving away just 44 runs.
With Marsh taking some time to warm-up, Finch shifted gears and launched Rashid over long on for a couple of sixes, bringing his half-century on the way. But largely, the two looked happy to deal in singles and doubles.
With 15 overs left, Finch hit Overton for a four and a six, while Marsh did the same to Moeen Ali, reaching his fifty off 62 balls.
Finch brought up his hundred – sixth against England and 11th overall – with a nudge on the offside. Finch and Marsh added 124 off 120 deliveries for the second wicket. However, when it was time to step on the gas, Finch perished. The opener looked to hit Wood across the line but the ball skidded off the surface, rapping Finch on the pads, right in the line of the stumps. Marcus Stoinis didn’t last long and was bowled in the same over – once again the ball keeping a bit low – leaving Australia on 228 for 3 at the end of 40 overs.
Ashton Agar was promoted to No. 5 in search of some quick runs but found it difficult to cut loose against the disciplined England attack. Although he hit three fours during his short stay at the wicket but could manage only 18 off 15 deliveries before getting caught behind off Rashid. This was the fourth time Agar was dismissed by the legspinner in as many innings in the series.
With five overs remaining, Marsh lofted Willey for a huge six over long off as he and Alex Carey pocketed 13 from the over.
In the next over, Rashid leaked 25 as Marsh slogged him for two sixes and two fours, bringing up his hundred – his second of the series – off 91 balls. The legspinner, who had conceded 48 from his nine over till then, ended up with figures of 2 for 73.
But England pulled things back with a three-wicket over. Carey tried to get into the act but ended up getting caught at deep midwicket off Wood. Marsh was dismissed on the very next delivery as well. The centurion lofted Wood towards long on where Jason Roy took the catch near the fence and lobbed the ball towards Overton, realising the momentum might take him over the boundary. Wood missed the hat-trick but three balls later, got Michael Neser caught behind.
Paine and Jhye Richardson took the side past 300 but given England’s strong batting line-up, it might not be sufficient.