Finch swoops in again
By Rob Barnett
Aaron Finch dominated England with a century at the start of a second straight limited-overs series as Australia comfortably won the first one-day international by six wickets.
Finch struck the highest Twenty20 international score, a 63-ball 156, at the Ageas Bowl in late August last year and today fired 121 with another electric display of hitting. His T20I knock began that rubber while today's came in the maiden game of five.
The powerful right-hander dominated an opening stand of 163, the best ODI partnership at the MCG, with David Warner to make rapid inroads into England's 269 for seven. Finch went on to become the first Victorian to make a format hundred on his home ground before holing out off Ben Stokes, having smacked 12 fours in his 128 balls.
Warner contributed 65 to the first-wicket alliance, during which Gary Ballance dropped Finch on eight at mid-off. In the over after Warner fell to Joe Root, the impressive Chris Jordan bowled Shane Watson but Michael Clarke corrected the minor wobble by adding 72 alongside Finch. When both went in quick succession the chase was all but complete and victory came with 26 balls unused.
The tourists' total was underpinned by contrasting fifties from Ballance and Eoin Morgan. Ballance's 79 in his second ODI was watchful while Morgan's 50 was typically sprightly. Ian Bell chipped in with 41 from the top of the order and Jos Buttler's cameo 34 not out gave the innings late impetus.
Clint McKay, leading Australia's attack in the absence of rested Ashes man of the series Mitchell Johnson, shone with 3-44 from 10 overs. He ousted Alastair Cook, who had won the toss, and Joe Root in the mandatory powerplay before returning to remove Ballance. Australia spinners Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell were economical on a two-paced pitch, whereas England went in without a specialist slow bowler and Stuart Broad, who is sitting out the first two matches with a sore knee.
Match Scorecard / Live ball-by-ball commentary
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Alastair Cook says Stuart Broad is missing the first two games of the series because he “has got a little bit of a sore knee”. — Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 12, 2014
11.11am - Unsurprisingly, Aaron Finch is man of the match for his 121. Alastair Cook said: "We were probably about 20 short" before adding "I was very impressed with Chris Jordan and Gary Ballance." Michael Clarke said: "I thought our batters were outstanding."
Watch highlights of Australia's innings at the MCG
The teams shake hands after Australia's win. We'll be hearing from Alastair Cook pitch-side very shortly #ausveng pic.twitter.com/pi0yETFxdU — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
11.04am - AUSTRALIA WIN BY SIX WICKETS! Aus 270/4; Bailey 17 Maxwell 9 - Bailey launches Stokes for a straight and aerial four before Maxwell pulls Bresnan for two to complete victory with 26 deliveries unused. Stay with ecb.co.uk for reaction.
10.58am - George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell, with plenty of time to knock off the runs, calmly rotate the strike. Another 13 are required from 36.
10.47am - WICKET! Clarke c Cook b Bresnan 43; 247/4 - Jordan completes an impressive 10-over allocation costing 1-50 before Clarke splices a simple catch to mid-off. Australia require 24 from 48 deliveries.
10.35am - WICKET! Finch c Ballance b Stokes 121; Aus 237/3 - The right-hander slices Stokes high to third man where Ballance, who shelled Finch on eight, pouches a tricky chance. That was an awesome, if slightly lucky, innings. Clarke edges four more and the powerplay yields 37, meaning 29 are needed from 10 overs.
10.31am - CHANCE! - An over after Finch drives Stokes for a straight four, Clarke edges Jordan between a diving wicketkeeper and slip for another boundary to move to 38.
10.22am - Rankin concedes two fours from short balls in the powerplay’s first over but Jordan makes the next relatively cheap. Australia need 52 from 78 deliveries.
10.09am - Clarke advances to Bresnan and gets four beyond mid-on during an over that Australia pass 200 in. After a tight Bopara set of six, the batting powerplay has to be taken.
Congrats to Aaron Finch on becoming the first Victorian to score an ODI century at the @MCG. — Melbourne Cricket Gd (@MCG) January 12, 2014
10.02am - HUNDRED! Finch (108b 9x4 0x6) - Finch nudges Bopara for a single to leg, raising an impressive century on his home ground.
Australia (207 & 57-5) need 128 more runs to beat England (201 & 190) after a thrilling third day at the Women's Ashes Test in Perth — BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 12, 2014
9.59am - Clarke hammers Bresnan for a straight four before Finch takes two past point to reach 99.
9.50am - Bresnan is back into the attack but Michael Clarke cover-drives his first ball for four. Finch mimics the shot off Jordan and then clips two to leg, advancing to 97.
9.42am - WICKET! Watson b Jordan 0; Aus 165/2 - The old adage ‘one wicket brings two’ applies when Jordan nips one between Shane Watson’s bat and pad to knock back off stump.
9.37am - WICKET! Warner c Stokes b Root 65; Aus 163/1 - A breakthrough at last! Warner hits spinner Joe Root high and straight, and Stokes does well to hold a difficult catch above his head at long-on.
9.33am - Warner powerfully pulls Stokes to the boundary and picks up two more to leg, heralding the highest ODI partnership at the MCG: 158.
9.25am - Finch and Warner keep the scoreboard, which stands at 144 for no wicket from 25 overs, ticking over.
9.09am - FIFTY! Warner (59b 3x4 1x6) - The left-hander tucks Rankin to leg for two to register his milestone and then pulls for four. This is Australia’s best ODI opening stand versus England. The carnage continues as Finch smacks Bopara back past him.
9.04am - Warner strikes the returning Rankin down the ground for an aerial four to usher the hosts to 116 without loss from 20 overs.
8.53am - Ravi Bopara takes over from Bresnan and begins tidily. Bresnan misfields on the boundary to gift Warner four off Stokes and move Australia to three figures.
8.38am - There’s controversy when Warner, on 22, edges Stokes low to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and starts to walk off. However, the umpires refer it and, with such TV replays typically inconclusive, the batsman is reprieved. England’s fielders are understandably upset. Australia reach 88 for none from 15 overs.
8.34am - FIFTY! Finch (47b 7x4 0x6) - The right-hander straight-drives Stokes into the non-striker’s stumps and the ball deflects to the right of mid-on for four, taking Finch to a half-century.
Beautiful evening here in Melbourne, but England need to break this partnership quickly. 72/0. #AusvEng pic.twitter.com/OA3v75I6Tn — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
8.28am - Stokes is on for Jordan, whose direct hit from mid-on turns one into two for Finch.
8.20am - Warner chips Jordan just short of Ballance at mid-on and smites six down the ground to yield 64 from the mandatory powerplay.
8.11am - CHANCE! - It’s harsh to call this a chance given the force that Warner hit the ball back at bowler Jordan, who sticks out his left hand but cannot hold on. Finch then straight-drives Bresnan, who has replaced Rankin, for four to raise Australia’s fifty.
8.06am - The delivery after Warner clips to leg and Tim Bresnan does well to save four, Finch loops a leading edge to square-leg and a diving Ben Stokes cannot get to it from midwicket. Finch then pulls to the boundary as the over costs 11.
8am - REVIEW! - More salt in the wound. Finch edges Jordan for four through a vacant second slip, from where Alastair Cook had just removed a fielder. Next up England review an lbw shout, but the ball was merely clipping the top of leg stump so the not-out decision stands.
7.55am - To rub salt into Ballance’s wound, Finch takes Rankin for two consecutive fours either side of the wicket.
7.50am - CHANCE! - Finch, on eight having whipped four to leg earlier in the over, drives Jordan to mid-off where Gary Ballance shells a regulation head-high opportunity for a catch.
7.44am - Warner cuts Rankin aerially for four through a vacant point region, the sole runs from the over.
Good wheels from Jordan, hitting 142kph and decent shape away from Finch. #AusvEng — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
7.39am - Chris Jordan, featuring in only his second one-day international, starts with two leg-side wides to Warner but the rest of his over is tidy.
7.34am - Welcome back. Aaron Finch, opening the batting alongside David Warner, scores all four runs from the first over, bowled by Boyd Rankin.
Watch highlights of England's innings at the MCGPost by Official England Cricket.
6.41am - END OF INNINGS! Eng 269/7; Buttler 34, Bresnan 16 - Buttler short-arm jabs Coulter-Nile for six as another dozen runs follow in the last over. That’s a decent effort from England, who have scored 86 from the last 10 overs.
England's highest first innings total v Australia this winter! They made 255 in 4th Test here at the MCG. — John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) January 12, 2014
6.37am - Bresnan launches Faulkner for a mighty maximum over square-leg in an over worth 12. There's one set of six remaining.
6.33am - Buttler scoops again, this time off Coulter-Nile, and Doherty does well to save four. Tim Bresnan then smashes a full-toss down the ground for four. It’s 245 for seven with two overs to go.
6.21am - WICKET! Ballance c Doherty b McKay 79; Eng 228/7 - Ballance slices McKay towards third man from where Doherty races in and dives but cannot hold on. Having swung four to leg, the left-hander repeats the shot from the start of the over and this time Doherty makes no mistake. That was a fantastically composed knock from Ballance.
6.18am - Ballance smites Faulkner to the midwicket boundary to move into the 70s and Jos Buttler unleashes a trademark scoop just past Haddin for four.
6.09am - WICKET! Stokes b Faulkner 21; Eng 206/6 - A pull gives Stokes four off Faulkner but, repeating the shot at the end of the over, the all-rounder has his bails clipped.
6.05am - Ballance sweeps Watson behind square for for four during a handy over that brings nine. The tourists could do with a few more like that.
5.57am - New man Ben Stokes pulls Coulter-Nile to the midwicket rope as the powerplay costs 24. England are 183 for five with 10 overs to go.
I've watched Stokes in practice over the last couple of days and he has been absolutely hammering the ball in the nets — John Etheridge (@JohnSunCricket) January 12, 2014
5.47am - WICKET! Bopara c Haddin b Coulter-Nile 17; Eng 173/5 - Bopara opens the face for the powerplay’s first four yet, attempting to do the same, then nicks behind to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
5.34am - England take the batting powerplay, but its first over from Coulter-Nile yields just one. The next, bowled by Faulkner, brings six.
5.30am - FIFTY! Ballance (69b 3x4 0x6) - With Ravi Bopara up and running, Ballance pushes Maxwell for one through cover to bring up a composed half-century in just his second ODI.
5.20am - WICKET! Morgan c Coulter-Nile b Maxwell 50; Eng 145/4 - Morgan attempts a similar shot to his recent four off McKay, but succeeds only in picking out the extra-cover fielder to end a stand of 83.
5.18am - FIFTY! Morgan (46b 5x4 1x6) - Having chipped McKay for four over extra-cover, the left-hander tucks Maxwell for a leg-side single to raise a fine half-century.
Lord Vader has turned up, and the DJ plays the Star Wars theme. The force is with England so far though...(sorry)... 137/3 #AusvEng — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
5.11am - McKay returns in place of Faulkner and, after a tight two, Morgan fortuitously inside-edges a four. England are 136 for three from 30 overs. Can they double that score?
5.01am - Morgan raises a fifty partnership with Ballance by striking Faulkner over mid-off for four. In the next over Ballance hits consecutive fours, a drive over mid-on and a cut past point.
Good morning from @mcg. Here is the view from the @bbctms commentary box as England try to set a competitive total pic.twitter.com/YE9ea7uGrP — BBC TMS (@bbctms) January 12, 2014
4.50am - Shane Watson is on so it’s seam bowling from both ends. Ballance and Morgan, who top-edges Faulkner for four to herald England’s hundred, are going along nicely.
4.42am - Following James Faulkner’s introduction in place of Maxwell, Morgan - who has been typically busy from the off - launches Doherty for a straight six.
4.36am - Eoin Morgan announces himself with a crisp cover-driven four off Maxwell. Ballance then cuts Doherty for his first boundary. The tourists reach 75 for three from 20 overs.
4.26am - WICKET! Bell b Doherty 41; Eng 62/3 - After Ballance survives an lbw shout from Maxwell because the ball was sliding down leg, Bell attempts to repeat his earlier maximum but fails to connect and is cleaned up by Doherty. That’s a shame as Bell was going well.
4.18am - Bell deftly reverse-sweeps Doherty for four and sweetly slog-sweeps Maxwell for a big six. England are 57 for two, of which Bell has 39, from 15 overs.
It's like Fleet Street out there...spin from both ends as Doherty comes on #ausveng — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
4.09am - Michael Clarke makes a double bowling change, introducing spin from both ends with Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty. Ballance, playing in his second ODI, gets his first format runs by driving Maxwell for three behind point.
4am - Bell, who is now partnered by Gary Ballance, laces a drive back at Coulter-Nile whose ankle inadvertently prevents a certain four. At the end of the over England are 28 for two from the mandatory powerplay.
3.49am - WICKET! Root lbw McKay 3; Eng 21/2 - Root is hit on the front pad by a full and straight McKay delivery. There were two sounds so the batsman reviews, but it turns out the double-noise was the ball striking both pads so Root has to go. ‘Snicko’, which is not being used in this series, latterly suggests a faint inside-edge. England have no review left in this innings.
3.44am - McKay and Coulter-Nile continue to keep it tight, getting some swing to occasionally beat the bat.
3.36am - Immediately after Root opens his account with one to leg, Bell firmly drives Coulter-Nile down the ground for the game’s first four.
3.28am - Nathan Coulter-Nile begins with a wide before Ian Bell cover-drives him for three and Joe Root faces his first two deliveries. McKay is fortunate to concede just one from the next over.
3.21am - WICKET! Cook c Haddin b McKay 4; Eng 4/1 - On a sunny day in Melbourne Clint McKay starts with an lbw shout against Alastair Cook, who cuts the next ball for four but soon nibbles at one outside off stump and edges behind.
3.10am - While waiting for the action to start in 10 minutes, why not take a trip down memory lane and read about England recovering from an Ashes whitewash in 2007 to win a triangular one-day series featuring Australia and New Zealand? Liam Plunkett spoke exclusively to ecb.co.uk about his memories of the triumph.
Cook: "Jordan has worked extremely hard over the last few years, & is an exciting talent...pitch looks very good." #AusvEng — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
Eng: Cook (c), Bell, Root, Ballance, Morgan, Bopara, Buttler, Stokes, Bresnan, Jordan, Rankin #ausveng — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
2.50am - ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS & BAT! - Cook, who lost the first four Ashes tosses, has now won two in a row. He opts to set a target and names the above team that does not include a specialist spinner. Australia have two slow bowlers, Doherty and Maxwell, at their disposal. Clarke said he would have liked to bat first.
Cook heads out for the toss... pic.twitter.com/QSQYEQNbHv — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
2.40am - In 10 minutes England captain Alastair Cook will reveal his team, which won’t include Stuart Broad who is being rested for the first two ODIs. Australia skipper Michael Clarke named his side yesterday as follows: Clarke (captain), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.
Cook, Bell and Buttler line up for cordon practice. Team news and the toss not far away. pic.twitter.com/6CHcNNDr2F — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014
2.30am - Hello and welcome to ecb.co.uk’s live text commentary on the first of five one-day internationals between Australia and England, particularly if you are awake in the early hours. The toss at the MCG is set to take place in 20 minutes with play starting half an hour later.
Cook leads the team talk in the pre-match huddle. Spirits are good. pic.twitter.com/p5xwvKflUA — England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 12, 2014