England beat weather for 10th straight one-day win

 

England completed an awkward run chase under lights to record their 10th consecutive one-day international win, and inflict a 4-0 NatWest Series trouncing on Australia.

Captain Alastair Cook (58) and his old Essex friend Ravi Bopara (52no) kept their cool as the hosts reached a Duckworth-Lewis target of 138 with seven wickets and 11 balls to spare in a rain-shortened match at Old Trafford.

England's change bowlers were to the fore as Australia endured a hapless collapse and mustered only 145 for seven in 32 overs.

But the hosts then lost Ian Bell, previously prolific in this series, to a chip to midwicket off Clint McKay in the first over of their reply.

Progress was also interrupted by a short break as the bad weather, which had delayed the start by three-and-a-half hours at Old Trafford, briefly returned - and left England with an apparently more exacting equation.

Jonathan Trott was then bowled sweeping at slow left-armer Michael Clarke, and Cook and Bopara had work to do from 34 for two in the 10th over.

But England's third-wicket pair did not panic, and gathered gradual momentum to add 92 together - by far the best stand of the match.

Cook adopted the sheet anchor role, on the way to his first half-century of the series from 69 deliveries, and Bopara injected the spark England needed to stay on course in his run-a-ball 50 - his 10th in ODI cricket.

The England captain did not quite see the job through, well-caught at slip by Clarke off Ben Hilfenhaus, but Bopara left nothing to chance.

James Tredwell had earlier taken his first home wickets for his country, as the tourists lost four for 12 runs; then Bopara took two for three in seven balls - and despite top-scorer George Bailey's unbeaten 46, Australia's total was decidedly vulnerable.

They were put in under cloudy skies and, after making 43 for none by the 11th over, badly needed to consolidate that encouraging start.

Sadly for Clarke's team, they managed nothing of the sort - two run-outs, including the captain's, helping to undermine their efforts.

Despite a series of plays and misses, from David Warner at Steven Finn in particular, no chances were given until Matthew Wade edged first-change Stuart Broad high and wide to a diving James Anderson at a solitary slip.

The wicketkeeper-batsman was put down on four, and one run later had another escape when this time an edge at Finn carried low to Tredwell but did not stick at second slip.

Warner clubbed a straight six off Broad, only to then have a let-off of his own on 30 when he upper-cut the same bowler high to third-man, where the ball slipped through Samit Patel's hands.

The fielder and England were soon able to breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the drop cost them just those two runs - before off-spinner Tredwell, in his first match since last year's World Cup, struck with his fourth delivery when he had Warner lbw sweeping.

For good measure, Patel and Tredwell then combined to run out number three Peter Forrest - trying to scurry a second for Wade to long-on but unable to beat the throw from the deep and neat work from the bowler to break the stumps.

Tredwell upped the ante with his next ball, as a frustrated Wade went on the charge and failed to get to an off-break and was stumped for a stodgy 12 from 40 balls.

Clarke pushed a faulty single to cover, and was easily short of his ground when Eoin Morgan produced a direct hit.

Then the introduction of Bopara ended an attempted fightback, as Steve Smith edged the medium-pace golden arm's first delivery down the leg-side to Craig Kieswetter, and the all-rounder struck with his first attempt in his second over too - David Hussey also caught-behind, trying to steer runs to third-man.

From 86 for six, Bailey and the tail tried to somehow salvage a defendable target - and with a six each off Tredwell and then Anderson from Australia's main contributor, they managed 58 for one wicket in the last 10 overs.

It was an admirably defiant effort but not enough, it turned out, to rescue even a modicum of consolation at the end of Australia's winless tour.

 



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