By BV Swagath
Australia finished their tour of England with a consolation victory in the 5-match ODI Series. The tourists won the fifth and final ODI which was played under lights at The Rose Bowl in Southampton by 49 runs on Monday to take the rain-affected series 2-1. Two matches of the series at Leeds and Birmingham were abandoned due to rain.
The Australian victory was set up by a strong ton from Shane Watson. The 32-year-old who has failed miserably in the Ashes Series has finally fired his guns but a bit too late. It was an 8th ODI century for Watson, who came in at no.3 to smash 143 from 107 balls with a dozen boundaries and half a dozen sixes. Skipper Michael Clarke, who has kept his good form going with a 76-ball 75 with 10 fours and a six. Riding on the knocks from these two, Australia batting first, posted 298 before getting bowled out in the final over.
The pair of Watson and Clarke got together when the Aussies were in an early soup at 48 for 3 in the first powerplay of 10 overs. Watson and Clarke added as many as 163 runs for the fourth wicket to rescue the visitors. Australia kept on losing wickets after their stand but with Watson in the middle till the 45th over, the visitors got through to a par total. England’s hero with the ball was the 22-year-old Ben Stokes, who captured a career best of 5 for 61. Another rookie, 24-year-old debutant Chris Jordan made best use of his opportunity to take 3 for 51. Boyd Rankin bowled outstandingly well for his mean figures of 9.1-1-26-1 while Joe Root was on the opposite side of the spectrum getting plundered for 58 runs in 6 overs.
England chasing 299 were immediately on the backfoot losing Kevin Pietersen for a duck in the first over through a needless run out. New opener Michael Carberry scratched around for 50 balls to score just 30. England simply failed to get going after being reduced to 68 for 4 inside 17 overs. Skipper Eoin Morgan scored 30 but couldn’t sustain the fight for his side. England had a promising partnership of 92 for the 6th wicket between Ravi Bopara (62 from 66 balls) and Jos Buttler (42 from 37 balls) but it was no way sufficient to pull off a victory for them.
The hosts were bowled out for 249 in 48 overs with James Faulkner taking 3 for 38 and Mitchell Johnson coming up with superb figures of 2 for 21 in 10 overs. Shane Watson was the Man of the Match while Michael Clarke was named as the Player of the Series.