<
>

Buttler's blast sets up England to seal series

England celebrate Jos Buttler's catch to remove Steven Smith Getty Images

England 6 for 302 (Buttler 100*, Woakes 53*) beat Australia 6 for 286 (Finch 62, Stoinis 56, Marsh 55) by 16 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jos Buttler's stunning century and a composed all-round effort with the ball helped England clinch the ODI series with two matches to play. Although Marcus Stoinis kept Australia in the hunt until the final over, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes closed the game out with another smart display of death bowling.

England had been struggling on 6 for 189 when Buttler and Woakes came together but they put on an unbroken 113-run stand to take the total beyond 300. Buttler reached his fifth one-day hundred from the last ball of the innings as England made far more than had looked likely. He then took a contentious catch to dismiss Steven Smith at a key point in the chase as England held on to go 3-0 up.

Buttler started steadily but dismantled Australia's pace attack in the final overs, at one point effortlessly heaving back-to-back sixes off Pat Cummins before following up with consecutive boundaries later in the over. Such was the Midas nature of his touch that even when he dug out a Mitchell Starc yorker it yielded four runs.

Buttler, on 97, was almost denied a century when umpire Chris Gaffaney raised his finger for an lbw shout from Starc but the replay left no doubt the ball had ricocheted off the bat before hitting the pad. In an eventful final over, Woakes brought up his half-century with a pull for six before Buttler reached his century with a hard run two off the final delivery of the innings.

Set 303 for victory, Australia were stifled by an England bowling attack that rallied after Liam Plunkett was struck down with an injury.

Plunkett left the field with a hamstring problem that caused him to pull up just before his delivery stride in the 12th over of Australia's innings. His departure from the field in his second over left England's attack a bowler short and forced Eoin Morgan to turn to Joe Root's part-time spin to make up the overs.

But Australia's chase had stuttered early on with the loss of David Warner, out chipping Woakes to extra cover, and Cameron White, who feathered a Wood delivery to Buttler.

That left the responsibility of steering the initial chase to Aaron Finch, who top-scored for Australia with 62 off 53 balls but was unable to reach his third century of the series. Finch pre-meditated a sweep shot to an Adil Rashid delivery that deceived with its extra pace and rapped the pads and after his departure the run rate required gradually increased.

As was the case with England earlier, the Australian batsmen made starts but found it difficult to convert those to big totals or to score quickly on a slowish pitch. Stoinis attempted to lift the run-rate in the latter stage of the innings with a brisk half-century but he fell heaving Woakes to deep square leg in the final over.

The match wasn't without controversial moments, particularly when Wood claimed the coveted wicket of Smith. Smith edged the ball low and to the right of Buttler, who took a one-handed grab. But the decision was sent to the third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, to judge whether or not the catch was taken cleanly. After a lengthy period examining the replays, Dharmasena was unable to find conclusive evidence to overturn the soft signal of out and the on-field decision was upheld. Smith, clearly unhappy with the decision, walked back to the pavilion amid a loud chorus of booing from the crowd.

During the match, television footage was also widely shared on social media that showed Smith shining the ball after touching his lips but the umpires did not appear to have any issue with the condition of the ball. After the match Smith said he was not wearing any lip balm.

England had won the first two matches chasing down Australia's totals and perhaps that was on Smith's mind when he elected to bowl after winning the toss.

First-choice quicks Cummins and Josh Hazlewood returned in place of Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye and, despite toiling on a slowish pitch and bowling several wide deliveries early on, their impact was evident in the opening stages of the innings.

England finished the first ten overs with 47 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets, by far their worst Powerplay figures of the series - they were 2 for 87 and 1 for 60 at the same point in the first and second ODIs, respectively. After losing early wickets, Jonny Bairstow and Root batted for more than ten overs without scoring a boundary as Australia's fast bowlers applied consistent pressure.

Cummins' first over was a maiden that pinned Jason Roy to the crease and in his next over Cummins got his reward when Roy slashed a full delivery outside off stump to Finch at extra cover. Alex Hales' time in the middle was brief and ended with a similarly soft dismissal, a mistimed drive off Stoinis lobbed directly to Adam Zampa at mid-on.

Australia had gone into the second ODI in Brisbane without a specialist spinner and, while a growing number of commentators and former players have questioned the absence of Nathan Lyon in the 50-over format, Zampa returned to the team in place of Travis Head and claimed the wicket of Bairstow with a well-executed googly.

Apart from Hales, England's top order made starts but Australia's bowlers were patient and struck regularly just as the batsmen seemed set. Root, who was presented with his 100th ODI cap by England and South Sydney rugby league player Sam Burgess, played on against Hazlewood for 29, while Morgan departed for 41, edging the same bowler behind just as he had started to accelerate the run rate.

Morgan was given a life on 19 when he was dropped by Smith, who put down a difficult chance while diving to his left at midwicket. But the dubious honour of the biggest howler of the innings went to White, who watched a skied ball from Moeen Ali off Mitchell Marsh drop between his hands and chest. Moeen had been dropped in a strikingly similar fashion by Hazlewood at the SCG during the fifth Ashes Test but, as in that match and throughout a disappointing tour, he was unable to capitalise and was out dragging a Marsh delivery on to his stumps soon after.

But England's much-lauded depth in batting gave them a late surge, with Buttler and Woakes combining brilliantly as the shadows lengthened for a rollicking partnership that lifted England to a total that had seemed well out of reach.