It was a show full of enterprise as Australia announced its intentions ahead of the 2015 cricket World Cup by mauling England in the final of Carlton Mid ODI Tri-series. It was not just the emphatic victory in the series but the way the Aussies highlighted the manner of its achievement. On an overcast morning with 4 wickets gone for 60, two Australian batsmen brought their team into the match by hammering the English bowlers and showing their dominant status in world cricket at the right time. While Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh brought the turnaround with a 141-run fifth wicket stand, the Australians didn’t stop there. They supplemented the mayhem with James Faulkner swinging at death to add a 24-ball 50. They reached 278/8 and defended that score in an even more authoritative fashion. Only Root, Bopara and Broad could offer some resistance in later stages but England were bowled out for 166 in the 40th over against some penetrative bowling by Mitchell Johnson early on and a tail-cutting by the same Glenn Maxwell, who harried the English bowlers earlier. In the end, it was celebration time for the amazing Australians, who carved out a 112 run victory with almost an ordinary total.
England skipper Eoin Morgan decided to field after winning the toss and reaped the benefit of his decision in the first over itself. Anderson’s third ball to Aaron Finch was just a shade short but it straightened after pitching. Finch wanted to work it away but couldn’t guess the speed as the ball took his bat’s edge to go to a slip fielder. From 0/1, Australia progressed to 33 in the seventh over before losing another wicket. Again it was Anderson but David Warner too failed to read the good length delivery and as he shaped to drive on the up, the ball struck his bat and popped out for an easy catch to the point fielder. George Bailey joined Steven Smith and the two of them played with caution. Bailey took 16 balls to get his first runs and on the 17th, he was sent back to the pavilion by Stuart Broad. Meanwhile, Smith continued to hold fort and he was 32 not out in Australia’s score of 46/3. He was joined by Glenn Maxwell but early loss of three wickets was bothering both batsmen. Australia scored 3 runs of the first three balls of the 18th over from Moeen Ali before Smith was stumped by Buttler. It looked bleak for them at 60/4 at that stage as Mitchell Marsh joined Maxwell.
The scenario began to change as Maxwell struck Steven Finn for two boundaries in the 19th over and took 10 more in the 21st when Finn came back. Maxwell and Marsh also ran smartly between wickets for ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. 100 came in the 25th over. After the batting power-play began in the 36th over, runs came more easily. In the 40th over, Maxwell belted four boundaries off Chris Woakes and they crossed 200 in the 41st. But Maxwell got out after scoring a 98-ball 95. In the 44th over, Australia lost Marsh as well for an invaluable 60 off 68 balls. At 216/6, 6.5 overs remained as the new man James Faulkner walked in. But Haddin got out. Faulkner didn’t care as he launched a slog-over assault scoring 50 off 24 balls. In the 49th over alone, Faulkner blasted Woakes for 24 and Australia ended at 278/8.
In ODI these days, 279 is not considered a difficult target but England lost opener Ian Bell in the 4th over. By 20th over five batsmen had gone back to the pavilion. Australia kept the pressure by some quality bowling by Mitchell Johnson and later it was Maxwell, who caused further damage. England couldn’t hold their innings together. Except for Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad, no batsmen could cross 20. Every England wicket fell for balls that deserved the wickets. The best was a snorter from Johnson that skipper Morgan thought would leave him. But as Morgan pulled his bat away in misjudgment, the ball crashed on his stumps. Bopara and Root added 25, Bopara and Buttler 27 and Bopara and Broad 32. These were the only notable stands and once Bopara left at 160, after making 33 off 59 balls, it was all over. With World Cup getting underway on February 14, England will face Australia in the first match on the opening day at MCG. Yesterday’s 112-run loss against the hosts will certainly weigh their minds.