Steve Smith scored 94 runs and Mitchell Starc took four wickets for 47 to lead Australia to a 72-run victory on Saturday over England to clinch the three-match one-day international series in consecutive games.
On the day Josh Hazlewood became Australia’s 28th ODI captain filling in for the rested Pat Cummins, Smith’s total from 114 balls helped set up the host’s 280-8 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Starc then struck twice in the first over of England’s innings. James Vince (60) and Sam Billings (71) put England back in the chase but Adam Zampa (4-45) and Starc reduced any chance of an England win to have the visitor all out for 208.
Starc’s performance came after he was controversially dropped for Australia’s last group game in the Twenty20 World Cup against Afghanistan.
The left-armer swung the ball early, getting Jason Roy caught behind and beating Dawid Malan to take his off-stump in the first over.
Australia beat England by six wickets in the first match on Thursday at Adelaide Oval. The teams conclude the series on Tuesday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
After saying he felt the best he had in six years in the series opener at Adelaide, Smith looked measured and controlled again on Saturday.
He barely gave a chance until he was dismissed in the deep, with his altered grip and less movement at the crease syncing up the movement between his hands and feet.
Smith now has scores of 61, 105, 80 not out and 94 in his past four ODIs, with one more innings to come in Melbourne before the first Test against West Indies starting November 30 in Perth.
Smith’s innings on Saturday also formed part of 101-run partnership with Marnus Labuschagne, whose 58 marked a return to form after a recent lean run for Queensland state.
Mitch Marsh then hit 50 to help Australia to a competitive score, after Adil Rashid (3-57) threatened to give England control when he had Labuschagne and Alex Carey (0) out sweeping in consecutive balls.
“It’s a series win which is really important to us,” Zampa said. “I feel like we played some really good cricket and got the big wickets at the right time. We’re so flat with how the World Cup went. England were by far the best team, and to beat them makes us feel a little bit better.”
Billings said it was a disappointing loss: “Their score was probably above par on that pitch.
“Those early wickets that we lost put us on the back foot, and it was a real shame that Vincey (James Vince) and I couldn’t go on for another 10 overs,” Billings said.