Dawid Malan’s fantastic century went in vain as Australia’s top-order batters produced impressive performances to help their team beat England by six wickets in the first ODI and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, here on Thursday.
Malan’s ton (134 off 128) injected life into England’s innings and helped them post 287/9 in 50 overs. In reply, David Warner (86 off 84), Travis Head (69 off 57) and Steve Smith (80 not out off 78) hit enterprising fifties to help the hosts chase down the total in 46.5 overs with six wickets in hand.
In the absence of the now-retired ODI skipper Aaron Finch, Australia’s new opening pair of Warner and Head blasted a century stand from 88 balls to set up their pursuit of 288. Warner brought up a 44-ball fifty whereas Head reached that landmark off 46 balls.
England finally managed a breakthrough in the 20th over when Head hit Jordan straight to the man at the deep as the 147-run opening stand came to an end. However, it hardly made a difference as Smith then took charge and made up for lost time after warming the benches during the T20 World Cup.
The visitors may have sniffed an opportunity to stage a late fightback after Willey removed Warner and Marnus Labuschagne in successive overs but Smith quickly quashed those hopes. The veteran’s half-century came off 47 deliveries before he smashed him for a four and a six to finish the proceedings with 19 balls to spare.
Earlier, a terrific century from Malan dragged England out of a precarious situation with the bat. Phil Salt (14) edged Pat Cummins behind to second slip in the 4th over while Jason Roy (6) didn’t make a great return to the England XI as Mitchell Starc swung one back into the batsman to knock timber.
James Vince (5) was the next to depart leaving Malan with plenty to do. Sam Billings (17) also failed to capitalise on a good start as Marcus Stoinis found a gap between bat and pad to knock the stumps. Jos Buttler consolidated for a brief period, ticking the scorecard over but just when it looked like a partnership was brewing, Australia struck once again as the England skipper failed in his attempt to clear the man at long-on.
With almost little to no hope of a revival, Malan rallied with the lower order to slowly turn the tables around. He took on Cummins for a couple of sixes and a four while also going past fifty. From thereon, it was just a one-man show. Chris Jordan hung in for a while after Liam Dawson’s runout and Malan started opening up to race into the nineties.
Eventually, he brought up his second ODI ton and the tide slowly started to change with the left-hander repeatedly finding the boundary. Eventually, Malan perished for a 128-ball 134. Willey then came up with a useful unbeaten 34 off 40 deliveries at the death to guide England to a strong total, which did not prove enough in the end.
Brief scores: England 287/9 in 50 overs (Dawid Malan 134, David Willey 34 not out; Adam Zampa 3/55, Pat Cummins 3/62) lost to Australia 291/4 in 46.5 overs (David Warner 86, Steve Smith 80 not out; David Willey 2/51) by six wickets