Australia flexed their ODI muscles again, handing the rejuvenated we-can-play-one-day-cricket-now England team a 59-run loss in the first one-day international in Southampton on Thursday.
The world champions might have suffered a morale-sapping Ashes loss, while also succumbing to England in the lone T20I match, but in the 50-over format, they showed yet again why they are such a force.
Finding themselves in trouble at 193/6 in 37 overs after choosing to bat, Mathew Wade (71 n.o., 50b, 12x4), the wicketkeeper who has taken over from Brad Haddin in limited-overs, and Mitchell Marsh (40, 34b, 2x4, 1x6), the oh-so-effective all-rounder, put on an unbeaten 112-run partnership in the final 13 overs to help Australia finish their innings on a formidable-but-definitely-not-out-of-reach 305/6 in 50 overs.
"We probably had a little bit of a hiccup with the bat in the middle order," Australia captain Steve Smith said, after Adil Rashid led the England charge with the ball, picking up four of those six wickets that fell. "But I thought Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh in the end, they scored 93 off the last 10 I think, it was an extremely good effort to get us up to 300.
"It was very important. We lost a few wickets in clumps in the middle. We didn't have the platform to launch. But I thought he [Wade] played some very smart cricket with Mitchell Marsh to get us up to 305 and it ended up being a good total."
England, in that unforgettable New Zealand series, showed time and again a score marginally over 300 is not that tall a target to chase down, but this time, with a potent, pace-filled Australia bowling attack, they bowed down to the pressure, eventually finishing on 246 all out in 45.3 overs, after getting off to a roaring start courtesy Jason Roy.
"Australia bowled pretty well and I think if we were a more mature and developed side we would have chased that down," England skipper Eoin Morgan told ECB's official website. "We got off to a fantastic start, we felt 305 was certainly within our grasp.
"Alex Hales and Jason Roy came out and set the tone and I think from that position we should certainly chase 305 down."
The England opening partnership put on 70 runs in just 11.2 overs, before James Taylor (49, 51b, 4x4, 1x6) also came in and gave Roy (67, 64b, 11x4) good company.
However, from a position of strength at 112/1 in the 18th over, Australia took control once Roy, and, a little later, Taylor, fell.
"That period of play where Australia did bowl well -- credit to them, they're a very strong side and hard to beat -- but if we'd come out of that one or two wickets down instead of three or four, we would have been in a commanding position going into the last 15 overs," Morgan added.
"I think the wicket deteriorated more than I thought it would do at the start of the game."
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