Michael Clarke’s unbeaten 99 helped Australia win the fourth one-day international by 78 runs at The Oval on Wednesday and reduce England’s lead to 3-1 in the five-match series.
Clarke and captain Ricky Ponting, 92, shared a third wicket stand of 155 as world champions Australia made 290 for five.
England, chasing a ninth straight ODI win, saw swing bowler Ryan Harris take five of their wickets for 32 runs.
The man of the match did the damage in a spell of five for 18 in 23 balls as England’s series lead was reduced to 3-1 after they were bowled out for 212 with 44 balls to spare.
Mike Yardy made a career-best 57, his first ODI fifty, but it was too late to make a difference.
“I have a smile on my face at last,” Ponting said. “Our batting today was at the level it needed to be.”
England opener Craig Kieswetter was bowled by Harris and Kevin Pietersen, walking well across his stumps, fell lbw to an inswinger for eight — the 15th successive ODI innings where he’d failed to make fifty.
Strauss, fresh from his 87 in Sunday’s one-wicket win at Old Trafford, looked in superb touch as he stroked five fours in making 37.
But fast bowler Shaun Tait, from around the wicket, got a full length ball to curve away and left-hander Strauss was caught behind to leave England in trouble at 61 for three.
Eoin Morgan’s first scoring shot was a straight six off James Hopes and he later struck the medium-pacer for two in as many balls. But, flashing outside off stump, he was caught behind off Harris for 47.
Come the last 10 overs, England needed 93 to win with four wickets standing. Soon afterwards, though, Tim Bresnan holed out to long-on to give Harris his fourth wicket.
Harris ended the match by dismissing Stuart Broad for his third five-wicket ODI haul.
Clarke, dropped off a difficult chance on five, began the final over of Australia’s innings on 98 and on strike.
He took a single off Tim Bresnan and had no care for what would have been only his fifth century in 178 ODIs as Smith retained the strike.
Ponting’s three previous scores of 21, 13 and three were well below his own standards. However, he responded with a 93-ball innings featuring 10 fours and his progress towards a 30th century at this level seemed assured.
But he played an “inside-out” drive against James Anderson and was caught at extra-cover by Strauss.
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