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Smith takes Australia into tri-series final

By The Assam Tribune

HOBART, Jan 23 (PTI): Skipper Steve Smith smashed an enthralling hundred as Australia recovered from late jitters to enter the cricket tri-series final with a thrilling three-wicket triumph over England here today.

Smith�s third ODI ton was instrumental in helping the home side chase down a steep target of 304 with one ball to spare after the middle-order failed to offer him steady support.

For England, Ian Bell�s 141-run knock went in vain as Smith stole the thunder, continuing his blistering batting form this season. England would now hope for India to lose Monday�s match to Australia to make the finals.

Smith�s knock came off 95 deliveries and included half a dozen fours and a towering six.

Australia�s chase was off to a steady start with openers Aaron Finch (32) and Shaun Marsh (45) sharing a 76-run stand.

Finch, who scored at run a ball and struck three fours was yorked by off-spinner Moeen Ali, which was followed by a couple of quick dismissals.

From a comfortable, 253/3, the Aussies were reduced to a shaky 275/5 before Smith and Haddin steadied the ship.

However, next man in Smith continued his stupendous run of form even as he struggled to get support at the other end. While Cameron White departed without disturbing the scoreboard, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner failed to convert their fine starts.

Maxwell, who looked solid in his 38-ball 37, holed out at deep mid-wicket to Joe Root while attempting a slog sweep off Ali, who was the most economical English bowlers with figures of 2/50 in his 10 overs.

Maxwell shared a 69-run fifth-wicket stand with Smith.

Faulkner, on the other hand, fell after adding 35 runs to the total and sharing a 55-run partnership with Smith for the sixth wicket. The all-rounder was dismissed by pacer Chris Woakes.

Smith finally found a firm partner in vice-captain Brad Haddin, who went full throttle in the last 10 overs to take the pressure off his skipper. Haddin was eventually sent back following a 29-ball 42, during which he smashed four fours and a six.

Australia needed 32 runs off the last five overs and Smith steered the side home after a couple of hiccups threatened to derail the chase.

Earlier, Opener Ian Bell hit a strokeful hundred only to see England lose momentum at the end of their innings at the Bellerive Oval.

Put into bat, England rode on a strong 113-run opening stand between Bell, who struck his eight ODI ton, and Moeen Ali (46) to give the visitors a good start only to see the script reverse in the final 10 overs.

Ali�s wicket, who missed on a fifty after falling to James Faulkner (1-53) in the 23rd over, was followed by James Taylor (5) as Australia seemed to pull things back a bit.

Bell, whose 125-ball innings was laced with 15 fours and a six, though carried on in the same vein, stitching up a 121-run third-wicket partnership with Joe Root (69) to once again expose the chinks in Australia�s bowling armour.

But rookie Gurinder Sandhu had other ideas as the young medium-pacer finally got Bell in the 43rd over to check England�s surge.

Sandhu�s well disguised slower ball got the better of a well set Bell, when the opener looped the ball to mid-off for Mitchell Starc to complete the formalities.

A ball later, Sandhu struck again, this time sending captain Eoin Morgan out caught behind for a first-ball duck.

Root, who completed his eight ODI fifty, tried to carry on the momentum built by Bell but fell to Pat Cummins (1-74), who tried to undo the damage after being guilty of leaking too many runs in his quota of overs.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler (25) tried to add some quick runs in the end but Australia came up with an improved bowling show in the death overs to allow the visitors just 27 runs from the last five.

Looking comfortable at 244 for two at the end of 40 overs, England saw a big slide as runs were hard to come by and the wicket-fall also did not help their cause.

The final 30 deliveries saw three wickets including two run outs and England, who started off in bright fashion, ended on a sombre note.

Australia have won both their games so far while England stand ahead of India, who are winless, in the points table with a win and a loss from two matches.


England: M Ali c sub (Doherty) b Faulkner 46, I Bell c Starc b Sandhu 141, J Taylor c Faulkner b Henriques 5, J Root c Finch b Cummins 69, E Morgan c Haddin b Sandhu 0, J Buttler run out 25, R Bopara b Starc 7, C Woakes run out 0, S Broad not out 0; Extras (B-1, LB-4, W-5) : 10; Total (for eight wickets in 50 overs) 303; Fall of wickets: 1-113, 2-132, 3-253, 4-254, 5-275, 6-303, 7-303, 8-303; Bowling: Starc 10-0-60-1, Cummins 10-0-74-1, Sandhu 10-0-49-2, Maxwell 3-0-22-0, Faulkner 10-0-59-1, Henriques 7-0-34-1.

Australia: Aaron Finch b Ali 32, Shaun Marsh c Bell b Finn 45, Steven Smith not out 102, Cameron White lbw b Finn 0, Glenn Maxwell c Root b Ali 37, James Faulkner c Bell b Woakes 35, Brad Haddin c Bell b woakes 42, Moises Henriques run out 4, Mitchell Starc not out 1. Extras: (LB 3, W 3) 6. Total: (7 wickets; 49.5 overs) 304. Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-92, 3-92, 4-161, 5-216. Bowling: Chris Woakes 9.5-0-58-2, James Anderson 10-0-56-0, Stuart Broad 9-0-61-0, Moeen Ali 10-0-50-2, Steve Finn 10-0-65-2, Ravi Bopara 1-0-11-0.

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