Taylor, spinners deliver big England win
England 300 for 8 (Taylor 101, Roy 63, Morgan 62) beat Australia 207 (Finch 53, Moeen 3-32) by 93 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England clawed their way back into the ODI series against Australia with a 93-run victory at Old Trafford.
A maiden international century from Man of the Match James Taylor provided the bedrock of England's total of 300, before their spinners went to work on a dry surface, claiming 5 for 73 between them in 20 overs. Moeen Ali finished with career-best ODI figures while Adil Rashid has never bowled better in an England shirt.
It was England's first win in eight ODIs against Australia and only their second in 13. It means the sides go to Headingley with the series poised at 2-1 with two to play.
There are, as ever, some caveats. It was an important toss that England won, with the pitch turning considerably by the end, while Australia were missing seven of the XI that played in the World Cup final a few months ago and are very much a team in transition. But, with a couple of obvious additions - David Warner and James Faulkner in particular - it may not be far from the side that represents them in the 2019 World Cup. Both these teams are in a redevelopment phase.
Australia will also reflect that they had opportunities to bowl England out far more cheaply. Eoin Morgan was missed - a relatively simple stumping chance to Matthew Wade off the impressive debutant Ashton Agar - when he had 15 and Taylor would have been given out leg before off Glenn Maxwell for 41 had Australia utilised their DRS referral.
It was, in some ways, a slightly old-fashioned performance from England. Taylor, demonstrating the leadership qualities that saw him promoted to the vice-captaincy for this game, faced 47 dot balls in his innings and only managed one boundary in his first 50 runs.
But, while he never threatened to score at a run a ball and never threatened to be pretty, he manoeuvred the ball well, scampered 47 singles and, even when his colleagues failed and the innings faltered, kept his head and ensured his side posted a competitive total. It was, for its unruffled calm, its maturity and its judgement, almost Jonathan Trott-esque.
And, if the total was a little less than seemed probable at one stage, it still required a record run chase. The highest successful chase in an ODI at Old Trafford is 285, but that was in a 55-over a side game. In a 50-over game, it is 242.
Still, when England were 205 for 2 with 17 overs to go, it seemed a score of something approaching 350 was possible. But Australia's new-look attack bowled with impressive control and maturity and England managed only 100 runs for the loss of six wickets in the final 18 overs of their innings. The ball became much more difficult to time as it aged.
Perhaps for that reason, the most fluent batting in either innings came from the opening batsmen, Jason Roy and Aaron Finch. At one stage Roy, mixing touch and power in a manner that speaks volumes for his development as a batsman, took a jaded-looking Mitchell Starc for four boundaries in five balls.
But batting at the other end appeared far less straightforward. Alex Hales, timing the ball sweetly enough but unable to pierce the field, managed 9 from 31 balls before clipping to midwicket and when Roy was lured down the pitch and drawn into a miscued drive, it seemed England's momentum would falter.
After a torrid start against the hostile Pat Cummins, Morgan helped Taylor add 119 in 18 overs and provide the platform for England's total. While he looked uncomfortable against Cummins' short ball - the bowler was clocked at almost 96 mph - he eventually found something approaching fluency.
But after he fell, slogging the first ball of a new spell from Maxwell to mid-on, the anticipated acceleration never came. Stokes' increasingly torturous innings was ended by a top-edged sweep to mid-on, Jonny Bairstow was run out by a brilliant direct hit from Smith, Moeen top-edged an attempted pull and Liam Plunkett was run out after over-committing while backing up to Taylor.
While Taylor reached his century in the penultimate over of the innings - fittingly enough, brought up with a scrambled single - it was left to Chris Woakes' late slogging to help England reach 300.
Australia rarely threatened their target. While Finch, recalled after injury, looked in sublime form, Joe Burns horribly mistimed to mid-off and the spinners choked the innings into submission on a surface proving them with plenty of assistance. Smith was brilliantly caught by Steven Finn at midwicket - a full length diving effort - as he attempted to skip down the pitch and flick him through the leg side and Finch, frustrated by Rashid's turn, control and variations, holed out to long-on.
Maxwell flourished briefly but, after two successive reverse-sweeps for four, his attempt at a third resulted only in a top edge to the keeper and George Bailey's uncomfortable innings ended when he slogged a full toss to deep midwicket.
Victory was all but assured by the time Roy, at deep midwicket, appeared to have misjudged a tough chance but then dived backwards to cling on to an outstanding, one-handed, juggling catch.
Maybe, in the long term, this is a performance that will confuse the England management. It remains hard to see a place for Taylor in the side once Joe Root returns and the continuing struggles of Stokes with the bat are a concern. But selectors would rather leave out good players than include inadequate ones and, after a couple of chastening defeats, this was a performance that not only kept the series alive, but will encourage a developing side that they are on the right track.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo