Mitchell Stark, Steve Smith Shine as Australia’s Hammer England to take the lead



Australia closed out the three-match one-day international series with a comprehensive 72-run victory over England in Sydney cricket Earth on Saturday.

Chasing 281 to level the series after Australia won the first match in Adelaide on Thursday, England looked to be on the right track as Sam Billings and James Vince shared a 122-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

But once Vince was trapped lbw by Australian stand-in captain Josh Hazlewood for 60, the English collapsed, losing 4-13 to hand the Australians almost the game.

On a deceptive wicket at the SCG, Steve Smith continued the form he showed in Australia’s six-wicket win in Adelaide’s hard-fought 94 to help Australia to 280-8.

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Aiming always looked difficult on a surface that was playing slowly with the occasional bad bounce.

“It seems easy to speculate when the partnership lasts,” Hazelwood said of the roof.

“But you’re a short distance away from causing a crash on such a pitch. I was very happy with the 280.”

England got the worst possible start to the run chase when Jason Roy tickled Mitchell Stark’s second delivery alongside goalkeeper Alex Carey.

After three balls, Starc got the main wicket of Dawid Malan with an almost unplayable ball that was bowled on leg stump and then swung back to take the top, leaving England to linger at two wickets without a run.

Continuing with the aggression for which England’s white-ball teams are famous, Phil Salt and Vince took the score to 34 after five overs.

But Salt tried one big shot too many, ducking away to try and smash Hazlewood over the cover only to miss the ball and see it as a cannon at his stumps.

Any hopes Australia might have had of breaking the England batting line-up were dashed by Vince and Billings.

Caution mixed with aggression as they took the score to 156 before Vince was trapped by Hazlewood as he attempted to lift the Australian captain over the square leg boundary.

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England captain Moeen Ali came on and smashed leg-spinner Adam Zampa for four and six, then missed the wheel and the ball was bowled.

On 168-5 after 28.3 overs, Australia were back in control and tightened their grip once later when Billings was bowled out by Zampa for 71.

England’s wickets continued to slip as Starc (4-47), Hazlewood (2-33) and Zampa (4-45) rolled the English tail.

“We were in a good position with the bat, but we lost small wickets,” said Ali.

“Wickets are getting easier to hit but we’ve lost them – it’s just one of those things.

“They played well at that point and the pressure is on us. If you are losing wickets regularly, you are not going to win many matches.”

Earlier, Smith had anchored 94 off 114 balls in the Australian innings after Hazlewood won the toss and decided to bat.

Hazlewood was brought into the side for captain Pat Cummins, who was an eye-rester into the upcoming Test series against the West Indies.

The pitch initially provided little assistance to the seamers but deteriorated as the innings progressed.

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