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England stagger to narrow win over new-look Australia

 

By Nick Purewal

England made hard work of a three-wicket ODI win over a weakened Australia at The Oval last night.

Moeen Ali's three-wicket burst reduced the tourists to a paltry 214 all out, before Eoin Morgan and Joe Root's 115-run partnership put the hosts on course for victory.

Morgan hit 69, with Root departing for 50, as England rode out a late wobble to start the five-match series in triumph.

Morgan, Root, Jos Buttler and Ali all perished to weak shots to leave bowlers David Willey and Liam Plunkett to finish the job.

Australia's first international action since March's ball-tampering scandal that saw Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft suspended ended in a defeat that would have been more comprehensive, save for England's errant batting.

Australia struggled for fluency throughout, feeling the injury absence of bowling trio Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood just as much as their three suspended batsmen.

Skipper Morgan claimed defeat to Scotland was the wake-up call his side needed to improve and see off Australia.

He said: "I'm very pleased, particularly with the bowling - I thought the bowlers did an amazing job. They really hit their straps well.

"It's great to see (us) as a unit working well as well.

"Moeen always gives you an option, he's a bit like Ben Stokes, you can throw him into any situation and he seems to enjoy it. He's had a great day.

"Up in Scotland I think we were better for playing that game. It certainly kicked us into touch a little bit and made us hone our skills coming into this game. It's never nice losing but certainly we did take a lesson from it."

Man of the match Ali, who took three for 43 before adding 17 runs, added: "The most important thing is we won the game.

"To bowl the way I did, and the rest of the bowlers, was fantastic."

On a potential return to the Test squad, Ali said: "I have one format to concentrate on at the moment and I'm happy with the way things are going with the white ball, but it would be nice at some stage to get back in."

Australia captain Tim Paine admitted his side had gifted England some of their wickets.

He said: "I thought our bowlers did a terrific job and we let them down with our batting group. I thought our quicks bowled really well and our spinners were okay. They played our spinners much better than we played theirs.

"We gave a few (wickets) away, there's no doubt about that.

"The first 15 overs we would probably like to have again," he added.

Scores: Australia 214 (G J Maxwell 62, Plunkett 3-42, Moeen 3-43); England 218-7 (E J G Morgan 69, J E Root 50, Willey 35 not out).

England beat Australia by three wickets

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