Hobart, Jan 23:
Australia rode on stand-in skipper Steven Smith’s unbeaten 102 to chase down a 304-run target set by England with three wickets to spare, registering their third successive win in the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series at the Blundstone Arena here Friday.
Opener Ian Bell’s 141 propelled England to 303 for eight. But the home side depended on the 25-year-old Smith, who recorded his third ODI century. Australia received good contributions from Aaron Finch (32), Shaun Marsh (45), Glenn Maxwell (37), James Faulkner (35) and vice-captain Brad Haddin (42).
Openers Finch and Marsh provided a strong opening partnership of 76 runs before Finch had his stumps dismantled by spinner Moeen Ali in the 12th over.
Smith joined Marsh but their 16-run stand ended early as Marsh lost his wicket to pacer Steven Finn in the 17th over. Right-armer Finn dealt another blow to the hosts in the same over by removing Cameron White (0), who came into the side in place of skipper George Bailey.
At 92 for three, right-hander Maxwell joined Smith and the duo stitched a 69-run stand for the fourth wicket to bail the team out of trouble.
In-form Smith also got good support from young all-rounder James Faulkner to take the team to 216 for five in the 38th over before the latter lost his wicket to medium pacer Chris Woakes.
Experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Haddin produced a useful knock and with Smith did the needful.
For the visitors, Finn, Ali and Woakes took two wickets apiece.
Earlier, Bell was in excellent touch throughout his innings of 141 from 125 balls, registering his highest ODI score. The 32-year-old scored his fourth ODI century while becoming his country’s highest run-scorer (5,136) in the 50-over format.
Joe Root (69 off 70) and Ali (46 off 48) supported Bell’s masterclass on a flat wicket and a lightning outfield.
Gurinder Sandhu was the pick of the Australian bowlers, taking 49 for two from 10 overs, including England captain Eoin Morgan for a duck.
Mitchell Starc claimed 60 for one, as the Australian bowlers restricted the visitors to 59 from the final 10 overs when a score of 330-plus looked likely.
Australia finished with a team hat-trick thanks to Starc’s wicket of Ravi Bopara (7) and a pair of run outs to Haddin as Jos Buttler (25) and Woakes (0) attempted to steal a bye off the final deliveries of the innings.
Brief Scores: England 303 for eight (Ian Bell 141; Joe Root 69; Gurinder Sandhu 2/49, Moises Henriques 1/34) lost to Australia 304 for seven in 49.5 overs (Steven Smith not out 102, Shaun Marsh 45, Brad Haddin 42; Moeen Ali 2/50, Chris Woakes 2/58). (IANS)