England once again defeated Australia for the third time in a row in this One Day International series to take an unassailable lead in the five match series after hundreds from Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales took England to a world record total of 481.
Australia won the toss and captain Tim Paine chose to bowl first but despite opposite number Eoin Morgan admitting he would have done the same, England’s innings got off to a fantastic start with the pitch and conditions offering little in the way of help to the Australian bowling attack.
Jason Roy, hot off the heels of his 120 in the previous game, and Bairstow, who averages 68 since moving to the top of the order and has scored all of his ODI centuries batting there, proceeded to put Australia to the sword.
Having dropped an extra bowler in order to strengthen their batting options, Australia went through eight different bowling options but neither was able to tie down or indeed dismiss what has quickly become one of the most dangerous One Day pairings in world cricket.
In fact, it took less than 20 overs for Roy and Bairstow to share a 150 run stand as they steamrolled an Australian attack that despite missing their star seam trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to injury is still one of great quality.
Unfortunately, Roy was to be dismissed soon after the pair reached 150 by running himself out for 82. The 27-year-old pushed Marcus Stoinis into the leg-side and took off after a two that simply wasn’t there as D’Arcy Short’s accurate throw allowed Paine to run Roy out by a clear enough distance for 82.
However, any hopes for Australia that the onslaught would die down were quickly shot to pieces by Bairstow and the new batsman Hales who picked up where Roy left off.
Bairstow reached his first ton of the series with a powerful six over midwicket, making three figures for the sixth time in his ODI career and off just 69-balls.
With Ben Stokes waiting in the wings to return to the side from injury, it was heavily rumoured that it would have to be one of the top three who would drop out of the side for the Durham all-rounder. Out of the three, Hales was considered the most likely candidate having posted scores of just 5 and 26 so far in this series and averaging just 12.66 in the Royal London One Day Cup for Nottinghamshire but the 29-year-old answered his critics by cashing in on the batter-friendly conditions and joining the run fest.
Together with Bairstow, Hales too shared a 150-run partnership as the pairing lifted England over the 300-run mark in the 34th over before Bairstow finally perished for 139 off 92-balls. The Yorkshireman looked set to smash Ashton Agar for the 21st boundary of his innings but instead of the ball reaching the rope, it ended up straight down the throat of Jhye Richardson at deep square leg in a dismissal which protected Roy’s record of his 180 against Australia in January as England’s highest individual ODI score.
Jos Buttler was promoted ahead of Joe Root and Morgan to bat at four in an attempt to keep the runs flowing but he was dismissed for just 11.
England break records
With England now three wickets down, it didn’t faze Hales who continued his marauding innings, reaching his hundred with a bottom edged four off just 62-balls, seven balls quicker than Bairstow and at a strike rate of over 160, making his innings arguably the most explosive of the three.
Now joined by Morgan, the two led England past the 400 mark as Morgan marked his return to the side by smashing England’s fastest ever ODI half-century off 21-balls and passing Ian Bell as England’s highest ever ODI run-scorer.
His historic cameo at the end of innings gave England even more impetus, with a Hales six causing England to pass the world record ODI total of 444 that they set themselves. The home ground hero was then dismissed just two overs later, slicing Richardson straight up in the air into the waiting arms of Agar, for a magnificent 147 to give the selectors a good headache to have when Stokes returns.
Morgan then followed the next ball, caught by Paine for 67 as Australia finally showed some guile with the ball to keep England below the elusive 500 run mark as they ended the innings on 481-6.
Australia were always going to struggle to break a world record and that proved to be the case with wickets falling at regular intervals and only one batsmen passed 50.
David Willey was the only seamer to take any wickets, removing Short first up for 15 and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for only 19, but the real damage was once again provided by the spin of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
Moeen was the first to strike, dismissing Australia’s top-scorer Travis Head caught and bowled for 51 and then the last game’s centurion Shaun Marsh caught by Liam Plunkett for 24. Ali’s final wicket came mopping up the tail, with Jos Buttler comfortably stumping Richardson.
Rashid then took four for himself, bowling Finch for 20, getting Paine caught in the deep for 5, having Agar caught and bowled for 25 and taking the final wicket of Stanlake for 1 as he was stumped by Buttler.
The other wicket to go down was Marcus Stoinis who was run out by Bairstow for 44 as England completed a dominant 242 run victory, with Australia bowled out for 239 in a game which will forever go down in history for the amount of records broken in England’s first innings.