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  • Australia v England, 5th ODI, Adelaide

England crumble to another defeat

The Report by Daniel Brettig in Adelaide
January 26, 2014

Australia 217 for 9 (Bailey 56, Broad 3-31, Stokes 3-43) beat England 212 (Root 55, Coulter-Nile 3-34, McKay 3-37) by five runs
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Shane Watson is overjoyed after picking up the final wicket © Getty Images
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Brilliant for much of this summer, Australia settled for simply being the lucky country on their national day, as a fortuitous moment at the pointy end of the final ODI effectively handed the hosts a fourth limited-overs victory out of five over England and a ninth from 10 encounters including the Ashes clean sweep.

In a scrappy contest dictated largely by the sluggishness of Adelaide Oval's drop-in pitch, Australia posted a mediocre total but defended it grandly against an England team who threatened to take control at several stages of the chase but could never quite manage to wrest command of the evening.

Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan all contributed useful scores to take England close, but it was left to Ravi Bopara to try to take his team to a second win in a row. He seemed likely to carry them there, until falling victim to a most unfortunate end, as Matthew Wade's fumble behind the stumps bounced back onto the leg bail with the batsman's foot barely raised.

The Australians celebrated their win raucously and fittingly - it was one more moment of joy in a summer brimful of them, while England rued the swings of outrageous fortune that inevitably seem to go against the side to fall behind. The hosts owed much to Nathan Coulter-Nile, who delivered perhaps his best and most disciplined spell for Australia, before Clint McKay gave nothing away in the closing overs.

James Faulkner also bowled well despite complaining of knee soreness earlier in the day, while Shaun Marsh may be under his own fitness cloud having left the field midway through England's chase. Aaron Finch was the beneficiary of two dropped chances in the afternoon but was beaten for pace by a revved up Stuart Broad, before Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Shaun Marsh all perished to loose strokes as they tried to raise the hosts' run rate.

The remainder of the innings was a struggle despite the best efforts of George Bailey, the only batsman to pass 50 in the face of a diligent England bowling line-up. Broad's pace and direction showed the way for his colleagues, while Ben Stokes, Tim Bresnan, Chris Jordan and James Tredwell also delivered sturdy spells.

Ian Bell and Cook began smartly, until the difficulties posed for shot-making on a decidedly slow surface began to rear. Bell tried to drive on the up and was taken at mid-off. Stokes' attempted pull shot was not middled and settled in the hands of midwicket. Then after a partnership with Root that hinted at success, Cook himself mistimed to short cover.

Root showed admirable composure on his return to the team, unhurried and unflustered while building another stand with Morgan. At 154 for 3 they were close to breaking the back of the chase, only for Morgan to follow his predecessors in perishing to a lofted stroke, this time finding Shane Watson at mid-off from the bowling of James Faulkner.

Three runs later and Root was trudging off too, his attempted paddle only succeeding in picking out short fine leg. A previously restive Australia Day crowd found its voice as the Australian huddle grew more enthusiastic. Jos Buttler enhanced their anticipation when he picked out deep midwicket with a pull shot, and Bresnan's one mowed six over wide long-on was cancelled out when he was thrown out by Glenn Maxwell, running in from cover.

Those who had witnessed the final day of the Adelaide Test against South Africa were made nervous by the sight of Wade stationing himself up to the stumps for McKay, but the bowler averted any problems by bringing one between bat and pad to bowl Broad. That left Bopara with just Jordan and Tredwell for company, and the fourth ball of the penultimate over brought unexpected reward for Wade's decision to stay up.

Beaten outside off stump by McKay, Bopara very briefly lifted his back foot, and at the same moment Wade's failure to glove the ball cleanly had it ricochet back onto the stumps. It was an exceptionally tight call, but the third umpire Kumar Dharmasena went the way of Australia. Bopara walked off in a daze, and Watson bowled a suitably tight final over to make the match safe.

Jordan and Broad had almost as much reason to curse their ill-fortune early in the afternoon, when Cook and Bopara both dropped chances they should have taken from Finch. Jordan's new ball swing posed problems at one end while Broad's pace was notable at the other, eventually rewarded when Finch was far too late on a ball that uprooted off stump.

Watson made a fairly ugly duck, narrowly avoiding an lbw appeal and DRS referral by Broad then swishing at a wide delivery and offering a catch to Buttler. Clarke spent 26 balls over 8 before trying to smear Bresnan across the line and also being bowled, and Marsh's start was wasted when he clipped Stokes to midwicket where this time Cook held on.

For a time Bailey and Maxwell stemmed the bleeding, manoeuvring the ball around a somewhat spongy outfield with the occasional muscular blow to the boundary. However Maxwell's patience is far from infinite, and a dabble too many outside off stump brought an edge behind the wicket.

Bailey's innings was nothing spectacular but he came closest to finding the right balance between aversion and aggression to score at a reasonable rate. Even so, his last 23 balls were devoid of a boundary, creating pressure that resulted in an attempted punch down the ground that skewed instead to mid-on.

Wade did his best with a busy 31, then Faulkner and Coulter-Nile tried to hit out at the finish, but the final tally looked meagre. Jordan was rewarded for his unrewarded earlier efforts with two wickets in as many balls during an excellent final over, but was to be left crestfallen at the finish as the chase fell maddeningly yet somehow fittingly short.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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