Australia ended a tough tour of England with a 49-run win in the fifth One-Day International against England, giving them a 2-1 victory in the NatWest Series.
Shane Watson smashed 143 – his eighth hundred in 50-over international cricket – as the tourists amassed 299 in the decider at the Ageas Bowl. Despite 62 from Ravi Bopara, England could only muster 249 in reply.
There were some plus points for England with the ball too, Ben Stokes taking a maiden five-wicket haul and new-ball pair Chris Jordan (3-51) and Boyd Rankin (1-26) both impressing, but they simply had no answer to Watson in the middle overs.
The big-hitting all-rounder struck 12 fours and six sixes during his 107-ball stay, registering the highest score by an Australian in an ODI in England.
He shared in a 163-run partnership with Michael Clarke (75) for the fourth wicket; Australia had been wobbling a little at 48-3 when the pair came together after losing two wickets straight after a brief rain delay.
Stokes removed the dangerous Aaron Finch for 26 and then followed that up by condemning Matthew Wade, promoted up the order to no 4, for his second golden duck of the series.
However, captain Clarke dispelled any worries over his ailing back with a typically-elegant knock, finding the boundary on 10 occasions and clearing it once before departing in the 32nd over.
Just five balls after being dropped by Rankin at mid-off, the right-hander picked out Kevin Pietersen in the same position to hand Jordan his second wicket.
The Sussex paceman, who was born in Barbados, had already claimed Phil Hughes as his maiden scalp and also went on to get James Faulkner caught behind by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who took four catches to go along with a stumping.
Following Clarke’s wicket the innings subsided somewhat, albeit with Watson taking 28 off one Joe Root over. He eventually perished to Stokes as the last four wickets fell for 16 runs, meaning for the second successive match Australia failed to bat out their overs.
However, England’s attempts to pull off a record run chase at the Hampshire venue suffered a disastrous start when Pietersen was run out in the opening over, while Michael Carberry could only manage 30 at his home ground before he was trapped leg before by Faulkner.
Root and Luke Wright, in for the injured Jonathan Trott, went in back-to-back overs to leave the score at 68-4 and the home side’s hopes seemed over when skipper Eoin Morgan was stumped off the part-time spin of Adam Voges.
Bopara and Buttler (42) tried their best to warm the home fans on a cold September evening on the south coast with a sixth-wicket stand of 92, only for the pair to depart in the space of two runs during the batting power play.
The inevitable conclusion then finally arrived when Fawad Ahmed bowled Rankin with the last ball of the 48th over, meaning Australia do get a trophy – albeit not perhaps the one they wanted at the start of the summer – to take home. (Sky)