Captain Eoin Morgan believes England are showing new-found qualities in their ability to successfully chase down targets after beating Australia by three wickets at Headingley on Friday to set up a one-day series decider.
England overcame the World Cup winners for the second time in four days, reaching their target of 300 with 10 deliveries to spare to tie the series 2-2 ahead of today’s finale at Old Trafford.
It was only the fourth time England have successfully chased a score of 300 or more to win a one-day international and beats the previous highest total they had made batting second to beat Australia, eclipsing the 270-4 they reached in winning at Lord’s in 1997.
The victory follows the record 350-3 England posted in beating New Zealand by seven wickets at Trent Bridge in June, when Morgan scored a century.
The captain again led by example with 92 off 92 deliveries to record his third successive half-century and seventh of the summer in one-day internationals.
Morgan, who was named as man of the match, said: “I firmly believe things work in cycles and when it’s going your way you have to cash in and I am making the most of a run of good form.
“There are only so many words you can say and ways to inspire people. The best way is to lead from the front and today I managed to do that, which is great, but the thing from the chase today is that everybody contributed, from top to bottom, right down to Moeen Ali and David Willey finishing it off, which is brilliant,” he said.
“The group of players we have and the attitude they show is, I think, outstanding,” he added.
“I have never had that sort of feeling within a side in a chase,” Morgan said. “I am very optimistic about things. That’s not experience, because we are a young side, but taking it on, the attitude is brilliant.”
Morgan shared stands of 91 with Ben Stokes and 58 with Jonny Bairstow before falling to a superb catch by Glenn Maxwell eight runs short of a ninth ODI century.
Maxwell also took a stunning boundary catch to remove the hard-hitting Liam Plunkett, but Moeen Ali and David Willey held their nerve to see England home with an unbroken 22-run stand with Willey hitting John Hastings for six to seal victory.
With the momentum behind his side, Morgan is now looking to win at Old Trafford to follow up England’s Ashes win over Australia and their one-day series success against New Zealand.
“Going into Sunday [today], the guys are full of confidence and really looking forward to it,” Morgan said. “We have had a little bit of success so far this summer and hopefully that continues, because if things go well, that accelerates our learning as we go along.
“Sitting here at two-all, having beaten New Zealand 3-2, we are pretty confident,” he added.
Australia are beginning to look as though the exertions of their long tour are catching up with them.
Half-centuries from Maxwell, George Bailey and, at the death, Matthew Wade allowed them to post a testing target.
However, on a decent batting pitch, their attack, without a second spinner after Ashton Agar was omitted, lacked variety and enough of a cutting edge.
Pat Cummins, the pick of the tourists’ bowlers with four wickets, said: “We came here and wanted to finish off the series. It wasn’t to be but they batted well on a good wicket.”
“If you get 300 and bowl well you should win most games,” he said. “We probably got enough runs, but our bowling probably let us down a bit in the middle, but we are not going to worry. We have chased down 300 and won plenty of times as well.”
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