MANCHESTER: Jos Buttler´s superb 110 not out saw England to a dramatic one-wicket, whitewash-clinching win over Australia in the fifth one-day international at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Victory meant England completed their first 5-0 series sweep of Australia in any format in more than 140 years of international men´s matches between the arch-rivals.
Set just 206 to win, England slumped to 114 for eight.
They were still 11 runs shy of victory at 195 for nine when Adil Rashid (20), who had helped Buttler add 81, was dismissed to leave England 195 for nine.
But Buttler responded by hitting part-time seamer Marcus Stoinis for six to complete a hundred off 117 balls — the first time the usually rapid-scoring wicketkeeper-batsman had faced more than 100 balls at this level.
Last man Jake Ball held his nerve and Buttler won the match on his Lancashire home ground with nine balls to spare when he hit Stoinis for four as England finished on 208 for nine.
It was a win celebrated by raucous cheers from a 23,500 capacity sun-drenched crowd, some of whom had previously enjoyed the goals the England football team scored in a 6-1 World Cup rout of Panama.
“It´s pure elation, isn´t it?,” said Buttler, both the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series.
“Winning games when you didn´t deserve to, they´re almost the more enjoyable ones.”
England captain Eoin Morgan praised Buttler for managing “to get us over the line somehow”.
Meanwhile Australia skipper Tim Paine insisted this reverse hurt just as much as his side´s record 242-run defeat in the third match at Trent Bridge that featured England´s 481 for six — the highest total in any men´s ODI.
´Stings a lot´
Paine, who indicated his batsmen were mostly to blame on Sunday, said: “It stings … it does sting a lot … it´s disappointing to lose five games of cricket in a row.
“We were in a great position to win the game — and as well as Jos played, we just didn´t put them under enough pressure.”
Fast bowler Billy Stanlake´s opening spell of three wickets for 18 runs had given Australia a shot of a first international win under coach Justin Langer, appointed after Darren Lehmann resigned following the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in March.
It took England just four balls to lose their first wicket when the in-form Jason Roy, fresh from his 101 in the fourth ODI at Chester-le-Street on Thursday, was bowled attempting a big hit off left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.
When Stanlake bowled Morgan for a duck, England were 27 for four.
They started to repair some of the damage but were in deep trouble again at 114 for eight when paceman Kane Richardson struck in successive balls to remove ODI debutant Sam Curran and Liam Plunkett.
Rashid survived the hat-trick, however, and then helped Buttler take England to the brink of victory before he was well caught by Stanlake at fine leg.
Earlier, off-spinner Ali took an ODI best four for 46 as England, the number one-ranked side in this format, dismissed world champions Australia, who won the toss, for 205 inside 35 overs.
Australia were going well at 60 without loss in the seventh over when Ali took two wickets for no runs in his first three balls as spin again proved to be Australia´s Achilles heel.
Aaron Finch (22) under-edging a pull onto his stumps and Stoinis fell for a duck when a mistimed sweep lobbed to short fine leg.
Travis Head compiled a 36-ball fifty but again fell soon afterwards when he chipped fast bowler Liam Plunkett to Morgan at short midwicket.
And 90 for three became 97 for four when Shaun Marsh, who had made two hundreds this series, exited for eight, stumped by Buttler off Ali.
Wicket-keeper Buttler was involved again as Australia slumped to 100 for five when, reacting quickly to Paine´s nudge, he threw down the stumps at the bowler´s end to run out his opposing gloveman for one.
Surrey left-arm seamer Curran then followed Ali in taking two for none in three balls, Agar shouldering arms for a duck, to leave Australia 159 for seven.