Jason Roy century leads England to fourth straight victory against Australia
The home side eased to victory in Chester-le-Street to put a series whitewash on the agenda.
Jason Roy’s century headlined another breathtaking display as England trounced Australia by six wickets at Chester-le-Street to put themselves on course for a 5-0 whitewash.
An opening stand of 174 between Roy (101) and Jonny Bairstow (79) kick-started England’s second highest successful one-day international run chase, before Jos Buttler (54no) joined in with a remarkable 28-ball 50.
They therefore knocked off a ground record 310 for eight with more than five overs to spare – before the floodlights could take effect on the longest day of the year.
Eoin Morgan’s men have a 4-0 series lead, despite centuries from Aaron Finch (100) and Shaun Marsh (101) and Travis Head’s 63 in Australia’s hard-working total.
The World Cup holders, depleted by a raft of key absences, are operating at a tempo from yesteryear – while England, top of the international rankings and favourites to take the global crown on home soil next summer, are vastly ahead of the game.
They followed Tuesday’s world record 481 for six at Trent Bridge by demonstrating they can be equally unstoppable in the chase.
Roy set off with a glut of boundaries in an 81-ball century which contained 12 fours and was completed when he hoisted his second six high over long-on off Nathan Lyon.
If Australia had any reason to be optimistic between innings, the illusion was brutally short-lived.
It was a shock when Roy and Bairstow got out within nine runs and 13 balls of one another, Roy edging another attempted big hit at Nathan Lyon to short third man and Bairstow then trying to guide runs fine on the off-side but too close to Tim Paine off the returning Billy Stanlake.
Joe Root soon fell too, bowled as he tried to sweep Ashton Agar – who had Morgan caught behind cutting.
But after Alex Hales had been badly dropped by Paine off Michael Neser on 17, he did not need a full reprise of his Nottingham heroics as Buttler instead took over with nine fours and a six to ease England to another resounding win.
Finch’s 11th ODI century, and sixth against England, and Marsh’s second in three innings underpinned Australia’s earnest total.
They placed their faith throughout in the old-fashioned tenet of wickets in hand for a telling late push.
Finch hit only six fours – and three sixes – in his 105-ball century, and Marsh mustered five, and four maximums, in his hundred from 91 deliveries.
Morgan chanced Root as first change bowler, and Australia allowed the part-time off-spinner to hustle through 10 overs for only 44 runs.
They did take toll of ODI debutant Craig Overton and Adil Rashid, however, and – despite a rush of late wickets for David Willey (four for 43) – counted 82 in the last 10 overs.
Australia’s conservative approach, after Paine chose to bat first, appeared pre-planned on a pitch of fair pace but occasionally low bounce.
Finch had a minor moment of fortune on eight when Hales was not quite able to hold what would have been a brilliant one-handed catch at midwicket off Mark Wood.
The openers achieved six an over in the first powerplay, a rate they would not revisit until the innings was almost done despite successive century stands.
Head got himself out, pulling Rashid to deep midwicket, and Finch fell to his very next ball after reaching three figures – lbw to Wood.
But Marsh sought to stay the course until he was brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary as Roy made an interception and parried the ball 10 yards away in-field to Overton.
That put Willey on a hat-trick, and he picked up two more cheap wickets in the death overs as Australia fell perhaps a few short of their gameplan – and plenty more short of a competitive target.