ADELAIDE, Australia — Travis Head just missed a century in guiding Australia to the brink of a three-wicket win over England in the fourth one-day cricket international at Adelaide Oval on Friday.
The result on Australia’s national day almost became academic when England’s top order collapsed spectacularly, losing its first five wickets for just eight runs.
After winning the first three matches and stating its intention of a whitewash, England’s lineup caved in against a rampant Australia bowling attack, with four key batsmen making ducks before the visitors recovered to make a modest total of 196 in 45 overs.
Pat Cummins took career-best figures of 4-24 and fellow pacemen Josh Hazlewood finished with 3-39.
“It has been a tough few games but it was nice here to start well,” said Cummins, the player of the match. “The wicket here has been brilliant for a few years with pace and bounce. I feel like I can use the bouncer and it swung early.”
Despite losing seven wickets in the run chase, Australia cruised to victory ay 197-7 with 13 overs to spare on the back of a masterful display from Head, who made 96, just shy of what would have been his second ODI hundred, exactly a year to the day after his only previous ton.
Head faced 107 balls and struck 15 boundaries but with victory in sight he pulled a bouncer from Mark Wood straight to England captain Eoin Morgan at mid-on.
“It was fantastic to win. We asked for a full performance. We got that with the ball but lost a few more wickets than we would have liked with the bat,” Head said.
“They made us work hard. They are a settled side who have a lot of confidence and they think they can win from any position.”
England legspinner Adil Rashid (3-49) briefly gave the visitors a glimmer of hope when he dismissed Australia captain Steve Smith then Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis but Head calmly steered Australia out of trouble before leaving Tim Paine (25 not out) to finish the job.
The match was effectively decided in the first seven overs when Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jos Buttler were all dismissed without scoring, and Alex Hales departed for 3.
Chris Woakes led the recovery with a superb 78 off 82 balls, featuring four boundaries and five sixes, while Morgan (33), Moeen Ali (33) and Tom Curran (35) all made valuable contributions when the new ball threat faded.
Morgan and Ali came together with England in total disarray at 8-5 in the seventh over and set about rebuilding the innings with a 53-run partnership. Ali then put on 51 with Woakes, who in turned added 60 with last-man-out Curran.
Andrew Tye, who failed to take any wickets in his two previous ODIs, dismissed Woakes, Ali, and Curran to finish with 3-33.
England’s innings quickly unraveled when Roy, who made 180 in the first match in Melbourne, was dismissed by Hazlewood off the second ball of the match then Hales was bowled by Cummins for 3 in the fourth over.
Bairstow, Root, and Buttler, who scored an unbeaten century in England’s series-clinching win in Sydney last Sunday, all followed in quick succession, leaving England in danger of posting their lowest total in any ODI before the lower order saved the tourists from complete disaster but not enough to seriously challenge Australia.
The fifth match is on Sunday in Perth.
“Australia bowled very well and were relentless,” Morgan said. “It was a tall ask to defend that total but Adil Rashid dragged us back into the game. Unfortunately, we needed something extra special which didn’t come.”