Shane Watson makes a habit of saving his best performance for the last match in the series, but this time guides the Aussies to victory.
How it went down
The inclusion of Phil Hughes for the final one-dayer didn't pay off, with the South Australian batsman falling cheaply, but that brought Shane Watson to the crease first drop and if the final Test of the Ashes series showed us anything, it is that this is the best spot for the all-rounder. Watson clubbed 143 runs off 107 balls and formed the biggest partnership of the match with captain Michael Clarke, who acted admirably in a support role scoring 75 runs off 76 balls. The Aussies made 298 runs but amazingly didn't bat out the 50 overs, with the final wicket falling with five balls still to be bowled.
Australia's defence of its total got off to the perfect start when Clint McKay appealed to have Kevin Pietersen out LBW, the decision wasn't given, but the South African-born batsman was suitably distracted to not start running for the single until it was too late and some sharp fielding from Fawad Ahmed had him run out without scoring. From there, the Poms couldn't keep up with the run rate required and they lost steady wickets until Rovi Bopara and Jos Buttler formed a strong partnership. But when the partnership started looking dangerous Clarke made the change to swing the momentum back the Aussies' way. He brought on James Faulkner who dismissed Buttler with the first ball of his new spell and then brought on Mitchell Johnson from the other end who took the wicket of Bopara from the other end, and from there the match was out of England's reach.
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Bluffer's guide: "If Joe Root was allowed to bowl more often one-day cricket would be a lot more entertaining."
Two moments that mattered
1. WATSON HITS ROOT OUT OF THE ATTACK. Root picked up the wicket of George Bailey who missed a sweep shot and was stumped in his second over and was somehow allowed to trundle along for five overs while only going for 30 runs. Watson decided enough as Root was still bowling in the late overs when runs had to be scored. After Faulkner took a single off the first ball to get him on strike, Watson went six, four, six, before Root started to get nervous and bowled a wide and then Watson finished off the over with another six and another four. The 28 runs off the over were the difference between a big score and a manageable score.
2. CLARKE TURNS TO FAULKNER. The only time Australia's defence of its total appeared to be in trouble was with Bopara and Buttler at the crease. The run rate required was steadily coming down as the two picked up the pace late in their 92-run partnership and Clarke realised it was time to act. He threw the ball to Faulkner who delivered with a straight ball that Buttler missed and cleaned up the stumps.
Hero of the day
Saving his best until last is becoming a habit for Watson. He did it in the Ashes series and he repeated the dose in the final one-dayer smashing a century and only just falling short of his highest score against England. He brought up his eighth one-day century off just 87 balls and once he was into triple figures he really picked up the pace, with the 26 runs he smashed off one Root over helping enormously. He didn't have as much impact with the ball as usual but still finished with a wicket from his nine overs and was the difference between the two sides.
It was only a matter of time…
Before the Aussies were rewarded for their effort. After failing to get a Test win despite playing better in two of the matches and drawing the T20 series 1-1, Australia had to make sure it took the win against an under-manned England outfit in the one-dayers to build some confidence ahead of the return leg. It may not matter that much in the scheme of things but at least the entire tour wasn't a complete bust and the Aussies learned some useful lessons ahead of the World Cup.
It's a numbers game
1 – Centuries Watson has scored when he hasn't opened for Australia. All seven of Watson's other centuries have come when he has opened the batting. He more than doubled his previous best score when batting at No.3, which was the 65 runs he made against Sri Lanka at the MCG in March last year.
6 – Wickets Ben Stokes has taken in his one-day international career. Five of them came in this match.
What caught our eye
The one-day international rankings. Winning the series against England ensured the Aussies stay at number two in the ICC rankings behind only India. With a one-day tour of India coming up for the Aussies in October the possibility of moving into No.1 spot remains a real possibility.
Did he really say that?
Looks like Mitchell Johnson has some pretty strong support for a return to the Australian Test side after a great performance during the one-day series.
Soundtrack of the day
Save the Best For Last – Vanessa Williams
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 17 September, 2013 8:14AM AEST