Brisbane: Joe Root showed all-round excellence to guide England to a four-wicket win over Australia in the second One-day International and take a crucial 2-0 lead in the five-match rubber here on Friday.
Chasing 271, opener Jonny Bairstow (60) and one-down Alex Hales (57) laid a solid platform with a 117-run second-wicket stand before Root (46 not out) guided the tourists home with more than five overs to spare.
Skipper Eoin Morgan (21), stumper Jos Buttler (42) and all-rounder Chris Woakes (39 not out) chipped in with useful contributions, lower down the order as the tourists head to Sydney with one eye on clinching the series.
Australia left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc struck twice in his final over to finish with 4-59, offering a reminder of his one-day threat with a searing yorker to knock over Moeen Ali for one.
Starc was complemented well by debutant Jhye Richardson, who hit speeds of above 145kph regularly and claimed 2-57 in an impressive maiden ODI appearance.
Earlier, winning the toss and opting to bat, the Kangaroos built around opener Aaron Finch’s (106) second hundred of the series but the support cast spluttered in the shallow end against England’s spin trio of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Joe Root, with five of the top six wickets snared between them.
It was Root, so much more than the ‘occasional bowler’ he is sometimes erroneously labelled as, who turned the innings in England’s favour.
At 110/1 after 19.4 overs Australia were readying themselves to pounce when Steve Smith (18) inexplicably missed a straight off-break from Root and was adjudged lbw.
Soon after, Root induced a false drive from Travis Head (7) as Australia’s innings had hit the skids.
A mini-recovery was then duly cut short when Mitchell Marsh (36) ran past a conventional Rashid leg-break, before the critical removal of Finch, caught at mid-on.
An over later, Rashid removed the dangerous and in-form Marcus Stoinis (4) with a beautiful delivery to be brilliantly taken by Jos Buttler. From a position of promise, Australia’s innings had descended into mediocrity.
Thereafter, Cameron White (15 not out) and stumper Alex Carey (27) guided the hosts to some sort of respectability with a 39-run seventh wicket stand.
Brief Scores: Australia 270/9 (Aaron Finch 106, Mitchell Marsh 36; Joe Root 2/31, Adil Rashid 2/71) lose to England 274/6 (Jonny Bairstow 60, Alex Hales 57, Joe Root 46 not out; Mitchell Starc 4/59, Jhye Richardson 2/57) by 4 wickets.