It doesn’t make up for a lost World Cup, but Australia has exacted some revenge after holding off a fast-finishing England by 19 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match ODI series.
Not even a maiden international century from Sam Billings could stop Australia from winning the first 50-over meeting between the rivals since England’s thumping semi-final victory at last year’s World Cup.
England found fast bowler Josh Hazlewood (3-26) near unplayable under lights in Manchester – and its slow start proved costly chasing Australia’s 9-294.
Eoin Morgan’s world No.1-ranked team has built a fearsome reputation of piling on ODI runs in recent years, but it crawled to 2-22 after 10 overs as man-of-the-match Hazlewood tied down his end with three maidens.
“I’ve got a couple of five-fors in one-day cricket, but against this line-up and this top order to bowl that well on this wicket, I’m very happy with that coming out,” Hazlewood said.
When leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-55) dismissed captain Eoin Morgan and dangerman Jos Buttler in quick succession, England’s bid to pull off the highest run-chase at Old Trafford was in tatters.
Opener Jonny Bairstow hung around amid the carnage, giving Australia some nervous moments as he lifted his flailing strike-rate during a 113-run stand with Billings.
Bairstow (84) went for one big shot too many and was caught in the deep off Zampa’s bowling in the 34th over, but Billings fought on for a tremendous 118.
Making the win even more impressive is Australia did it without star batsman Steve Smith, who was a late scratching after being hit in the head while batting in the nets on Thursday.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch says Smith was only left out as a precaution, but suffering another head knock is still concerning given his history with concussion.
Glenn Maxwell (77) and Mitch Marsh (73) stepped up in Smith’s absence by pulling Australia out of a hole with a gutsy 126-run sixth-wicket partnership.
Australia was on the ropes at 5-123, after Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl, when the oft-maligned allrounders came together.
In his first ODI for more than a year, Maxwell made a cautious start before launching four sixes with some of his trademark explosive hitting.
The big-hitting Victorian was bowled by Jofra Archer (3-57) when trying to lift the run-rate, but Marsh remained watchful in recording his best ODI score against England.
Quick Mitchell Starc struggled with minor groin soreness in the field and will be monitored ahead of Sunday’s second ODI.
Morgan paid tribute to how Australia played and doesn’t believe England are far off their best.
“We had an OK day with the ball, but the best part of it was taking early wickets,” he said.
“You have to give credit to Marsh and Maxwell for establishing a partnership to get things going.”