Two high quality hundreds were notched in this match, by Eoin Morgan and David Warner, while no other batsmen passed 40. The difference between Australia and England was that Warner’s 127 at the top of the order set the tone for the hosts, whereas Morgan’s 121 served merely to add a veneer of respectability to the tourists’ tally after their top order had been perforated by the day’s other major performer, Mitchell Starc.
Ian Bell and James Taylor barely had time to adjust their eyes to a brilliantly sunny Sydney afternoon before Starc’s fast new-ball inswing pinned both lbw, but Morgan marshalled the lower order to drive the visitors to a total they could not have contemplated at a forlorn 5 for 69.
Starc returned later to snip off the England tail, and Warner’s innings epitomised the level of certainty he has brought to his game in recent times, without any apparent loss of momentum. At the start of the week Warner had acknowledged his oddly diffident ODI record. Wtih a World Cup on the horizon he is intent on changing that, and the evening’s effort made for a fine start.
Morgan’s appetite for Australian pitches and bowling is well known, but he had only once passed 50 in the 12 months since he performed well down under last summer, including a century in Brisbane that was to be overshadowed by James Faulkner’s rescue act when Australia chased. England needed something from their new captain, and Morgan delivered with a combination of smart placement and the odd blazing blow.
Nevertheless, a chase of 235 was never likely to challenge Australia without a rush of early wickets, and Warner’s poise was such that this never appeared likely. There was the odd moment of early bluster, but these soon faded to the steady drum of his bat on the white ball, finding gaps and manipulating fields while the rest of the Australian order accompanied him in a series of useful stands.
None of Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, George Bailey or Glenn Maxwell kept Warner company for too long, but England’s poor start meant they did not need to, even as Chris Woakes bowled an exemplary line and also showed useful variation in pace for his four wickets. The major stutter of the innings took place after Moeen Ali flighted an offbreak past Smith’s outside edge; any anxiety was settled by a hat-trick of Brad Haddin boundaries.
Starc and Pat Cummins had been fast and accurate with the new ball, the latter also finding the outside edge of Joe Root’s bat before the match was four overs old. Faulkner and Xavier Doherty offered sturdy support through the middle of the innings, but the likes of Watson and Glenn Maxwell were less able to put a clamp on the English scoring rate.
A bare-looking Sydney pitch and a warm, sunny day had Australia selecting Doherty ahead of Gurinder Sandhu, while Bailey led in the absence of Michael Clarke. England elected not to choose James Anderson as he continued to build his workloads after his recovery from knee problems.
Only around two overs of swing could be coaxed from the white Kookaburra, but in that time Starc bent it past Bell – who may have edged the ball – and Taylor. Root drove at the line of Cummins without noting the length nor the pace, and a bold cameo by Moeen was ended when he found deep cover, though one steel-wristed flick over the long-on fence will linger in the memory.
Morgan had much to do, and Ravi Bopara contrived to cut Doherty straight to backward point. But Jos Buttler and Chris Jordan were able to hang around while a pair of 50 stands were raised, and Morgan’s confidence grew in direct proportion to his score. No fewer than 11 boundaries and three sixes flowed from his bat, leaving Australia to wonder about their prospects of chasing on a pitch that was starting to wear.
Morgan hit out once too often after passing his century, picking out the man at deep midwicket having already carted Starc for a six and a four in the 48th over. The last man Finn was yorked the very next ball, England failing to bat out their 50 overs not for the first time in recent times, the sort of trend that helped lead to another defeat at the increasingly assured hands of Warner. (ESPNcricinfo)