Steven Finn’s four-wicket haul laid the platform for England’s eight-wicket hammering of Australia in the fourth one-day international on Saturday.
England, set a modest 201 for victory, finished on 201 for two with 13 balls remaining as they won the series, going 3-0 up in the five-match campaign after Wednesday’s clash in Birmingham, England, was washed out.
“Our bowlers set the tone beautifully at the start,” England captain Alastair Cook said. “Steven Finn took the wickets today, but the other guys bowled well too.”
Jonathan Trott (64 not out) and Ravi Bopara (33 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 65 as England recorded their ninth successive one-day international victory.
Ian Bell (69) and Warwickshire colleague Trott had previously put on 66 for the second wicket. Bell’s 94-ball knock, featuring nine fours, meant that in five innings since taking over as an opener following Kevin Pietersen’s limited-overs retirement he has scored 364 runs at an average of 72.8, with one century and three half-centuries.
Meanwhile, Trott’s effort, in his 47th innings, saw him become the fourth-fastest batsman to 2,000 one-day runs behind South Africa’s Hashim Amla (40 innings), Pakistan’s Zaheer Abbas and Pietersen (both 45).
Earlier, fast bowler Finn’s man-of-the-match haul of four for 37 in his maximum 10 overs sparked an Australia top-order collapse, as the visitors struggled in overcast conditions after losing the toss.
“They were great conditions for fast bowling today, it was a key toss to win,” Finn said. “We realized we had to bowl a fuller length and we did that well as a unit.”
Finn, yet to nail down a place in England’s Test side, added: “I have tried to be as consistent as I can in one-day cricket for the last 12 months and wherever that leads me to in Test cricket, I will take.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke said the toss had played its part in the result, but stressed that his side had been outplayed.
“England were outstanding once again and showed us how to play consistently in this form of the game,” Clarke said. “England had the better of the conditions, but we had the better of them at Lord’s and they still found a way to beat us. England have outplayed us so far and we have plenty of work to do ahead of the Ashes next summer [in England].”
That Australia, still the world No. 1 side in the format, recovered from a lowly 96 for six to 200 for nine was largely down to David Hussey’s 70.
Cook and Bell made a sound start to the chase.
Bell eased fast bowler James Pattinson, recalled alongside fellow seamer Ben Hilfenhaus in place of of left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson and spinner Xavier Doherty, through the covers.
Australia’s problems intensified when all-rounder Shane Watson and paceman Brett Lee both went off with injuries, meaning Clarke had to use part-time bowlers.
Seamer Clint McKay (two for 29) took the only wickets to fall, having Cook (29) caught at short extra-cover and getting Bell to play on.
England would have had even fewer runs to chase had they not dropped four catches, with Hussey missed on 15 and 29.
Finn, twice on a hat-trick, ended just shy of his career-best four for 34, which he achieved twice against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in February.
England saw Finn claim two wickets in successive balls as Australia slumped to six for two, although it needed a review before David Warner was out leg before wicket. Next ball there was no doubt when Peter Forrest was plumb leg before.