LEEDS, ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan smashed an inspired 92 to help England to a three-wicket victory over Australia in their fourth one-day international on Friday, squaring the series ahead of the final match.
Australia set England a challenging target of 300 to level the five-match series and looked set for victory after half-centuries by George Bailey (75) and Glenn Maxwell (85) at Headingley.
But Morgan turned the match around and key contributions from James Taylor and Ben Stokes, who both scored 41, sent the hosts into the final overs with real belief.
Moeen Ali and paceman David Willey saw England home with a total of 304-7 with 10 balls remaining. The hosts chased down 300 for the first time against Australia and only the fourth time in their history.
Having trailed Australia 2-0, Friday’s victory made it 2-2 ahead of the series decider at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Sunday.
Though it struggled toward the end of the tourists’ innings, England made a bright enough start.
Willey, in for the injured Chris Woakes, earned the wickets of Australia’s top three batsmen, including captain Steve Smith for 2.
Joe Burns played on with a half-hearted shot in the third over, before Willey sent an in-swinger into Smith’s back pad for an lbw decision. Jonny Bairstow then held Aaron Finch’s thin edge as England looked to be taking control.
But a dropped catch in the 10th over, when Jason Roy failed to hold on to Maxwell’s edge, proved costly with the batsman then only on 6.
Maxwell was eventually bowled by Ali after attempting a reverse sweep to leave Australia on 167.
Having entered the last 10 overs on 210-4, Australia lost Mitchell Marsh, Bailey and debutant Marcus Stoinis in the space of 10 balls.
But Australia had an explosive eighth-wicket partnership in hand, with Matthew Wade and John Hastings scoring at better than 10 per over.
Hastings hit with plenty of power but Wade’s array of strokes, which brought three fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 50, did most to shift the momentum, with Willey being smashed around the ground in his last three overs.
England’s response started badly, with the out-of-form Alex Hales gone for a second ball duck having been beaten for pace by Pat Cummins.
However, Taylor then peppered the ropes with a series of boundaries, including three in an over off James Pattinson.
Roy was inspired to follow suit, overtaking his partner with five fours in 13 deliveries as England raced to 73-1 in the powerplay.
But it was Morgan who really did the damage, with the England captain hammering Hastings into the roof of the stand and following up with four boundaries in eight balls.
His knock ended with a fine catch by Maxwell, who went one better to dismiss Plunkett, holding then releasing a tough chance on the boundary, briefly balancing then leaping back onto the field of play and gathering the ball.
By then it was too late to change the result, though, with Willey ending things with a crashing six off Hastings.