Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey both hit brilliant hundreds as Australia sealed a dramatic series win over world champions England in the third One-Day International at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Australia, chasing a target of 303, were all but out of the game at 73/5 when Maxwell came to the crease.
But an Australia record sixth-wicket stand of 212 between Carey (106) and Maxwell (108) helped give the tourists a 2-1 success as England suffered their first home ODI series defeat in five years.
Earlier, Jonny Bairstow had revived England from the depths of 0-2 with a superb hundred that saw them to 302/7 after the opener watched from the other end as left-arm quick Mitchell Starc removed Jason Roy and Test captain Joe Root with the first two balls of the game.
Sam Billings (57) and Chris Woakes (53 not out) also hit valuable fifties.
Maxwell’s hundred was just his second century in 113 matches at this level, with Carey’s innings the wicketkeeper’s first century in his 39th ODI.
But when Maxwell holed out off leg-spinner Adil Rashid, Australia still needed 18 off 15 balls. That became 10 off six when Carey, whose century came off 106 balls, was superbly caught by a diving Mark Wood at third man off Jofra Archer.
New batsman Starc, however, hit his first ball, from Rashid, for six and sealed victory with two balls to spare with a four.
“It probably wasn’t the ideal situation when I came in but being the last batter, I suppose I had a bit of license to go for it right from the start,” Maxwell told Sky Sports.
“We thought if we could take it as deep as we could, myself and Alex, we might be a chance at the back end.”
‘Too good for us’
England captain Eoin Morgan said Australia were “too good for us”, adding: “To lose two wickets for no runs and then post over 300 is a huge positive for us. I think Jonny Bairstow was outstanding today. Carey and Maxwell played outstandingly well.”
England were left to rue the Carey being caught on nine off an Archer no-ball as they ended a coronavirus-hit season by suffering their first series defeat in 18 matches across all formats.
Australia’s success was all the more creditable as star batsman Steve Smith missed all three matches after suffering a head injury batting in the nets.
Pace bowler Woakes took the first two wickets early in Australia’s chase, having captain Aaron Finch lbw and Marcus Stoinis caught off a leading edge at midwicket.
And Australia were 55/4 when Morgan saw his decision to bring on Root rewarded by the occasional off-spinner taking two wickets for three runs in six balls.
Root clean bowled David Warner (24) with a fine delivery that angled into the left-hander before turning sharply away. He then had all-rounder Mitchell Marsh spooning a simple catch to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. And when Marnus Labuschagne was run out, Australia were 73/5 in the 17th over.
But the big-hitting Maxwell, the last of Australia’s recognised batsmen, took advantage of a short boundary and brought up an 84-ball hundred with his seventh six, off medium-pacer Tom Curran.
Morgan won the toss and batted on a fresh pitch. But from the first ball, Roy edged a drive off Starc to backward point.
Next ball, Starc had Root lbw with an inswinger, the batsman not bothering with a review. Left-hander Morgan survived the hat-trick before Billings gave Bairstow excellent support, completing a 53-ball fifty before he became one of three wickets for in-form leg-spinner Adam Zampa.
Bairstow went to his century in style with a legside six off a 90 mph delivery from Pat Cummins. Bairstow’s tenth century in 83 ODIs came from 116 balls, including 10 fours and two sixes, before he was bowled by Cummins’s slower ball.