Curran’s five-for steals thrilling win for England


England 259 (Root 62, Tye 5-46) beat Australia 247 (Stoinis 87, Curran 5-35)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A shattering spell of reverse swing by Tom Curran foiled Australia’s chase of a modest England total and in turn silenced a West Australian record crowd of 53,781 in the first ODI to be played at Perth’s new stadium. A trio of players from out west – Mitchell Marsh, AJ Tye and Marcus Stoinis – had prospered earlier in the match, but it was the effervescent Curran who had the final say, years after he had been childhood friends with Marsh when growing up in Zimbabwe.

Australia seemed to be travelling comfortably in pursuit of 260 for victory, after England’s batsmen had squandered a series of starts, when Stoinis fell within sight of a hundred upon his promotion to No. 3 in the home side’s batting order. Having earlier ended a poor series for David Warner with a lively yorker, Curran was called back by Eoin Morgan and had his second ball curling back to confound the recalled Glenn Maxwell.

Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Tim Paine followed, leaving England 4-1 victors in the 50-over series and underlining the fact that Australia are currently a long way from putting together a strong limited overs combination, less than 18 months away from next year’s World Cup. England were also well served by David Willey, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, while Jake Ball overcame considerable physical distress to complete his 10 overs. Winning the match without Mark Wood, Chris Woakes or Liam Plunkett was testament to the depth of the England ODI squad.

The visitors had seemed headed for a tall total when Jason Roy was hitting the ball with plenty of power early on, but he, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales all failed to go on from promising starts to leave Joe Root more or less stranded with the England tail. In the game after taking his first international wickets, Tye used his vast array of pace variations to scoop five, reaping the rewards of some earlier good work by Marsh and also Zampa, who delivered his best spell of the series.

Warner again departed cheaply, but his exit provided the chance for Stoinis to demonstrate his combination of poise and power in a way that will put him very much in the mix to be a more permanent fixture at No. 3. A promising stand with Travis Head, again looking comfortable as an opener, was ended by Morgan’s direct hit run out, which found the left-hander to be fractionally short of his ground.

Smith has looked out of sorts all series, and did little to change that impression by being nearly stumped off Rashid and then comfortably stumped off Moeen, who drifted one away from Australia’s captain before sliding it past the outside edge and into Buttler’s gloves. Marsh was victim to a simply outstanding return catch from Moeen, who thrust out his right hand and plucked a fiercely struck straight drive just as the umpire was ducking for cover.

For a time it appeared that Stoinis and Maxwell would take the Australians home, leaving the hosts needing just 70 from 97 balls with six wickets in hand. But when Stoinis failed to clear long-on when electing to loft Rashid, he opened up an end for Curran, who made the most of it, turning figures of 1 for 23 after five overs into a match-winning 5 for 35 after 9.2.

Smith admitted that his decision to bowl first was based largely on unknowns about the stadium’s drop-in pitch, which offered an odd-looking mosaic of dry grass and greener areas. But it played well from the moment Roy flicked Starc’s first ball of the match through square leg, the vast square boundaries for a stadium devised primarily for football matches allowing an all-run four.

Having begun the series with a whirlwind 180 at the MCG, Roy seemed intent on ending it in a similar manner, driving powerfully down the ground and through cover across a fast outfield. The ball after hitting Starc back over his head for six, he edged a ball angling across him through to Paine, only to be reprieved by the detection of a no-ball on replays after the event. Starc beat Roy for pace with the subsequent free-hit, but the no-ball looked likely to be costly as England strode to 44 in the first five overs.

Some tighter bowling from the West Australian duo of Marsh and Tye forced Roy’s scoring rate to slacken, and ultimately drew his wicket when trying to force the pace once more – beaten by one of Tye’s slower ball variations and skying to mid-on. Bairstow then took it upon himself to drive the scoreboard forward, but he too was dismissed after making a start, dragging an indeterminate prod at Starc onto the stumps after Smith brought back his No. 1 strike bowler.

Marsh, who bowled with notable economy, also ensured Hales would not go on from his own start by coaxing a top edge from a short ball, and Morgan swiped unsuccessfully at another ball banged into the pitch, taken by Stoinis running in from deep point. Buttler briefly threatened to go on the offensive before he too was fooled by Tye’s subtle changes in pace, leaving Root to try to lift the tally with the bowlers.

He paid a price in pain when one of Tye’s deliveries came through slower than expected, Root through the shot and struck a painful blow in the ribs that he took some time to recover from. None of Moeen, Rashid or Willey could endure, and when Root found Warner at long on, the end was Tye’s. Australia went to the interval with confidence, but they were to be humbugged by Curran, much as they have been by a more focused and tactically alert England throughout this series.


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