England completed a five-nil series whitewash of Australia at Old Trafford, Manchester, thanks to a brilliant unbeaten century from Jos Buttler who helped his side recover from 114 – 8 to win by one wicket with an over to spare.
It was a thrilling end to a match which had likely to end in another easy England victory after they dismissed Australia for 205 in less than 35 overs, then seemed to have swung the tourists way after the English top order collapsed, only for Buttler, with a man of the match innings of 110 not out, to have the decisive say.
Before the match England made three changes from the side which won in Durham, with Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett returning to the side, and Sam Curran making his ODI debut. Craig Overton was ruled out with a side strain, and Mark Wood and David Willey were rested. For Australia, Kane Richardson was preferred to his namesake Jhye, and D’Arcy Short replaced Michael Neser.
For the fifth time in the series, Tim Paine won the toss and Australia elected to bat first. Aaron Finch and Travis Head gave them a solid start, putting on 60 for the first wicket before Moeen Ali struck twice in three balls in the seventh over, bowling Finch for 22, and having Marcus Stoinis top-edging for a duck.
Head reached his half-century before he was caught by captain Eoin Morgan off the bowling of Plunkett for 56 and then Ali struck again, having Shaun Marsh stumped for 8. When Pain was brilliantly run out by Buttler for a single, Australia had slumped to 100 -5.
The visitors’ fortunes were revived by a stand of 59 between Alex Cairey in only his second ODI appearance, and Short, with both batsmen showing a strong attacking intent. Cairey was eventually caught behind off Curran for 44, and two balls later, Ashton Agar was out shouldering arms to the same bowler. However, with the help of Richardson who scored 14 before he was run out, Short managed to drag the tail to 205, before Billy Stanlake was last man out, with Short undefeated on 47.
By this point, some sections of the crowd had drifted off to watch England play Panama in the World Cup, and, perhaps events in Russia were on the minds of the English batsmen as well, because they made a disastrous start to their innings. Jason Roy fell to Agar in the first over, and then Stanlake took three wickets in ten balls, accounting for Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Morgan, to leave England tottering at 27 – 4.
Alex Hales and Buttler added 23 before Hayles was caught behind off Richardson for 20, and although Ali (16) and Curran (15) looked to provide support to Buttler, when both fell and Plunkett was out first ball, the game seemed up for the home side.
Buttler though had other ideas. With the help of Adil Rashid he constructed an 81 run ninth wicket partnership that took his side from the verge of defeat to the edge of victory, noticeable for the fact that the wicketkeeper was not throwing the bat wildly but choosing when to go after the bad ball and when to take a single.
Rashid was dismissed with 11 runs still needed, but Buttler hit the next ball for six and, together with last man Ball, steered his side home, to spark wild celebrations, as England celebrated winning not only the match but also beating Panama in the World Cup and Lewis Hamilton winning the French Grand Prix.